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Pre-conditions for talks won't work: Pakistan

PTI 07 Oct 2015, 23:13:50 IST

New Delhi: Amid chill in bilateral ties, Pakistan today said setting preconditions for talks and "cherry picking" never worked before and will not succeed in future as remaining dis-engaged would not improve relations.  

Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said Pakistan expected a positive response from India on the four-point agenda put forth by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to normalise ties but India's response to it was not encouraging.

"Setting pre-conditions or cherry picking never worked before nor (it is) going to work in future," Basit said.  

He was speaking at the launch of book "Neither A Hawk Nor A Dove" written by former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri. The event was attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and BJP patriarch L K Advani besides a galaxy of other political leaders, writers, intellectuls, diplomats and eminent citizens.

In his 850-page book, Kasuri detailed various significant developments in India-Pakistan relations during his tenure as Pakistan Foreign Minister between 2002 and 2007 including the back-channel peace talks that he claimed had almost culminated into a permanent settlement of the vexed Jammu and Kashmir issue.

Basit said India-Pakistan relations are "again going through a familier pattern" but held out hope that "together we can make a diffence and resume a process that is to our mutual satisfaction."

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"I think the environment will improve if the two sides are engaed (in talks). To expect that the environment will get better with dis-engagement, at least I do not subscribe to that," the Pakistan envoy said.

The envoy said India should have reflected on Sharif's proposal, observing that diplomacy conducted in "post haste" has its own hazards.

Ties have been strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations.

Talks between India-Pakistan National Security Advisors were cancelled recently because of a dispute over the agenda. India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir.

In his comments, Kasuri showered praise on Manmohan Singh, calling him a statesman, and former Pakistan President Pervez Musharaf, crediting them for coming close to a settlement of the Kashmir issue.

"India's position is very well-stated. India says there will be no change in borders. Pakistani position is equally well-stated that we will never accept the status quo," he said, hoping that both the countries will be able to resolve the Kasmir issue.

He said history will recognise efforts of Singh and Musharaf to bring peace to the two countries.

On ways to improve ties, he said, cricket matches are substitute for battle fields between India and Pakistan.  

The former Foreign Minister military in Pakistan is an institution and if there is "hardening of position on the Indian side, Pakistan army will issue a harder statement." Effusive in his praise for Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Kasuri said he laid the foundation for the peace process which blossomed during Singh's tenure and that Pakistani establishment was upset when NDA had lost elections in 2004.  

Speaking in the panel discussion, former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha said both sides should not engage in talks as in the recent past dialogues resulted in deterioration in ties.

Former Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, in his comments, passionately called for resolving the long-standing dispute, saying both the countries cannot live in a situation of war.  

"Lets come out of those boxes and come to terms with the reality," he said.

Asked whether he was aware about the settlement claimed by Kasuri, he said he was not aware of it.