'Pakistan to raise Kashmir issue with India'

Pak PM Yousuf Raza Gilani

"As far as the core issue is concerned, it is Kashmir. There cannot be lasting peace in the region without resolving the Kashmir issue," Gilani told reporters in his hometown of Multan.
Gilani was responding to a question about criticism from opposition parties that his government was afraid to raise the Kashmir issue with India.

He said the "core issues for Pakistan are Kashmir and the (sharing of river) waters" and these would be taken up when Pakistan's Foreign Secretary and Foreign Minister meet their Indian counterparts on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 26 and 27 respectively.

Gilani said he and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh had agreed on these meetings during their talks at Sharm el-Sheikh in July. Pakistan is "hoping for progress in these meetings", he added.

The premier said he had made a "forceful statement" when he recently took the Kashmiri leadership into confidence on talks with India and there should be no cause for apprehension over Pakistan’s stand on the Kashmir issue.

In response to another question, Gilani said the world is aware of Pakistan's role as a "frontline state" in the war against terrorism. The Pakistani security forces have displayed their capability to take on terrorists and militants, he said.

The Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting to be co-chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari, US President Barack Obama and British premier Gordon Brown will focus on the reconstruction of the militancy-affected Malakand division, the capacity building of Pakistani institutions and realising pledges of aid for the country, Gilani said.

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