Remarks by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar at the National Assembly on Pakistan-India Ministerial Meeting

Islamabad: Before making a policy statement on my recent visit to India, I would like to place it in its context. The Government has made a special effort since coming to power to reach out to all our neighbours, especially those with whom we have had some difficulties. This policy is reflected in our outreach to Afghanistan and India. The resumption of the dialogue process with India and my visit to India had some clear objectives, which are:

• To ensure uninterrupted and uninterruptible dialogue;

• To ensure a conducive environment by looking at the relationship not in a hostile perspective but a friendly one;

• To find solutions to all issues;

• And in this context, the importance of remaining engaged with India.

2. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani are committed to peace, prosperity and development of the region. They are committed to the process of re-engagement with India. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has personally led the process of re-engagement. His meetings in Thimphu and Mohali laid the ground for the re-engagement process.

3. My visit to India and talks with the Indian Minister for External Affairs was the culmination of the first cycle of the resumed dialogue process. These talks were preceded by the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries on 26 July 2011. The talks marked the culmination of the first round of Pakistan-India dialogue on all the eight subjects i.e. Counter-Terrorism; Economic and Commercial Cooperation; Wullar Barrage; Siachen; Sir Creek; Peace and Security including CBMs; Jammu and Kashmir and Promotion of Friendly Exchanges. It may be recalled that a calendar of meetings was agreed when the Foreign Secretaries had met in Thimphu in February this year to resume the dialogue process. According to that agreed calendar the Foreign Ministers met for a review meeting.
4. During my stay in New Delhi, I held meetings with the Kashmiri leadership including Syed Ali Shah Gilani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq who called on me separately at the Pakistan High Commission along with other prominent Kashmiri leaders on 26 July 2011. I assured them that Pakistan remains committed on its political and legal position on Jammu and Kashmir and will continue to support the Kashmiri cause. I also reiterated Pakistan’s continued support to associating the True Representatives of the Kashmiri people with the dialogue process on Jammu and Kashmir.

5. I had an opportunity to call on Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. I also called on the leader of opposition in Lok Sabah Ms. Sushma Swaraj and the senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party Mr. L.K. Advani. I also had an opportunity to interact with Indian media.

6. The Ministerial level talks were held on 27 July 2011. The two sides reviewed the progress made in the round of meetings under the resumed dialogue process and expressed satisfaction on the holding of subject specific meetings during the last five months. The talks were held in a frank, constructive and cordial manner. The two sides agreed that it is important to carry forward the dialogue process with a view to resolving peacefully all outstanding issues through constructive and result-oriented engagement and to establish friendly cooperative and good neighbourly relations between our two countries.

7. On Jammu and Kashmir, we stated that Pakistan remains committed to a just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue, in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. We also stated that without prejudice to our political and legal position, we were desirous of a meaningful and result oriented engagement on the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

8. We underscored the importance of giving serious consideration to associating the True Representatives of the Kashmiri people i.e. the APHC with Pakistan-India dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir. We also expressed our serious concern on the violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people and the importance of respecting their fundamental rights and freedom.

9. We agreed to enhance the existing facilities for travel and trade across LoC for Kashmiris on both sides. The decisions taken by the Cross-LoC trade and travel Working Group during its meeting in New Delhi on 18 July 2011 were agreed upon by the two sides. These confidence building measures are listed in the Joint Statement which was issued at the conclusion of the talks.

10. During the meeting, we also conveyed to the Indian side that Pakistan is keen to see progress on Siachen and Sir Creek which are doable. We also raised our concerns on water issues and emphasized on the need for respect for the Indus Waters Treaty. There is considerable potential for mutually beneficial cooperation in economic and trade issues. All this is the subject of the Trade/Commerce Secretaries Dialogue. We are also working towards a more facilitative visa regime.

11. The Indian side reiterated their concerns on terrorism and Mumbai trial case.

12. Both sides have agreed to:

Convene separate meetings of the Experts Groups on Nuclear and Conventional CBMs in Islamabad in September 2011.

Resume the work of the Pakistan-India Joint Commission. The Technical Level Working Groups under the Joint Commission will be convened to identify avenues of further cooperation in various fields.

Hold Ministerial level meeting again in Islamabad in the first half of 2012 to review progress in the dialogue process. This will be preceded by Secretaries level meetings on Counter-terrorism (including progress on Mumbai trial) and Narcotics Control; Humanitarian issues; Commercial and Economic cooperation; Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project; Sir Creek (at the level of Additional Secretaries/Surveyors General); Siachen; Peace and Security, including CBMs; Jammu and Kashmir; and Promotion of Friendly Exchanges. Dates of all these meetings will be decided through diplomatic channels.

13. We conveyed to the Indian side that Pakistan desires friendly, cooperative and good-neighbourly relations with India. It is evident that the two sides need to invest more in building mutual trust, infusing greater political will in resolving all outstanding issues through peaceful means and keep the process of dialogue going.

14. My meeting with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was positive and constructive. I conveyed to him the greetings of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.

15. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh welcomed the progress made in the Pakistan-India dialogue process and termed it as “heralding of a new spring” in the relations between the two countries. He stressed that he wants “friendliest” of relations with Pakistan and resolution of all issues with Pakistan. A letter of invitation from the Prime Minister was handed over to him, which was accepted.

16. In my interaction with BJP leaders, I emphasized that Pakistan seeks result oriented engagement with India. I also informed them that there was consensus among all political parties in Pakistan for seeking improvement in relations with India.

17. We have positively assessed the outcome of the Ministerial level meeting with India as both sides have expressed their satisfaction on the resumption of the dialogue process and have also reaffirmed their commitment to deepen bilateral engagement by building trust and avoiding rhetoric. Both sides have underlined the importance of a purposeful and sustained dialogue process to resolve all outstanding issues. This is without prejudice to our established and well known position on all the issues including Jammu and Kashmir.

18. It is our desire to sustain and deepen the engagement process with India. We look forward to carrying forward the dialogue process with a view to opening a new chapter in our relations. Both Pakistan and India are important members of the SAARC fraternity. We believe that security, peace and prosperity of South Asia, as a whole, is indivisible.

For more information, contact:
Syed Haider Ali Jafri
Personal Secretary
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Government of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 921 0335 and 9056604

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