We have taken bold steps to normalise ties with India: Pak

We have taken bold steps to normalise ties with India: Pak

Ahead of Foreign Minister S M Krishna's visit here, Pakistan today said it has taken "bold and unprecedented" steps to improve ties with "vital neighbour" India and to resolve all bilateral disputes, including the key issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

"As a democratic government, we have taken bold and unprecedented decisions. Granting the Most Favoured Nation status by Pakistan to India has injected a new momentum into the Pakistan-India normalisation process," Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said.

"This process should create a better relationship. And we believe that a better and deeper relationship will eventually lead us to ways and means to resolve all bilateral disputes, including the most important of all, the status of Jammu and Kashmir," she said.

Describing India as a "vital neighbour" for Pakistan, Khar said during a speech at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin that history would bear witness to the "level of effort exerted" by the current government in Islamabad to normalise relations between the two countries.

However, Khar said there is "only one eventual resolution" to the Kashmir problem, which has been "clearly articulated by the UN Security Council".

The Kashmiri right to self-determination, she contended, is an "agreed principle of international politics for over fifty years".

"We believe that a greater depth to the Pakistan-India relationship will help lead us to the resolution (of the Kashmir issue)," she said.

Khar's remarks came four days ahead of her meeting in Islamabad with Krishna to review the last round of the talks process between the two countries.

Krishna will hold talks with Khar on September 8, and their talks will be preceded by a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries on September 7.

The two ministers will also co-chair a meeting of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission.
The commission was revived in 2005 after a gap of 16 years and it held meetings in 2006 and 2007.

India and Pakistan resumed their peace process last year, after a gap of over two years in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The two countries have made considerable progress in the past year in normalising trade and commerce relations.

India recent allowed investments by Pakistani investors and Islamabad has decided in principle to give MFN-status to the neighbouring country by the beginning of next year.
During her speech, Khar said lasting peace would open new vistas of cooperation in South Asia.

Pakistan straddles South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia and "is destined to become a bridge between these regions", she said.

The people of Pakistan want peace within and outside the country and the central plank of Islamabad's foreign policy has been a "region-first approach that prioritises our relationship with our immediate neighbours", she said.

However, she contended that ECO and SAARC were two regional organisations that had "not been able to deliver as expected because of ongoing conflicts".

The region is the "least economically integrated" areas of the world and it should take a cue from the European Union to "settle our disputes and put our region on the road to peace and prosperity", she said.

Pakistan's strategic relationship "has been proven time and again" the friendship of the two countries is for "all aeons to come", she said.

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