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Pakistan for peaceful settlement of issues with India

August 22, 2013 19:41 IST

Emphasising that the LoC ceasefire should be maintained, Pakistan's highest body on security issues led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said the country will continue to seek peaceful settlement of all outstanding issues with India.

The Defence Committee of the Cabinet received a briefing on the situation along the Line of Control during its first meeting since Sharif assumed office in June. Discussions on tensions along the LoC figured prominently in the meeting.

"It was strongly emphasised that the ceasefire should be maintained in letter and spirit. All military and diplomatic channels should be used to prevent ceasefire violations," an official statement said.

"It was emphasised that Pakistan will also continue to seek dialogue and resolution of all outstanding issues with India peacefully," the statement said.

The DCC took note of "continued violations of the ceasefire" and condemned the "unprovoked firing" that killed an army captain yesterday. "Pakistan’s policy of restraint and responsibility was highlighted," the statement said.

Bilateral ties soured after five Indian soldiers were killed in an attack by Pakistani troops along the LoC two weeks ago. Both sides have accused each other of violating the 2003 ceasefire along the LoC.

The Pakistan Army has claimed two personnel were killed in "unprovoked" firing by Indian forces this week.

The National Assembly also passed a resolution deploring the death of the captain on Wednesday and calling for "constructive" engagement with India.

In his opening remarks at the DCC meet, Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan was facing "formidable challenges domestically while far-reaching developments were taking place in the region". The statement did not give details.

The DCC provides a platform to deliberate on these issues and craft an appropriate response, he said. Presentations were made by Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the prime minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and the Director General of Military Operations.

The meeting deliberated on the evolving situation in Afghanistan. It emphasised that a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s vital interest and will contribute positively to peace, security and progress in the region.

Pakistan will fully support the world community’s efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. It will also work to comprehensively upgrade its relations with Afghanistan, the statement said.

A report on The Express Tribune's website said the committee decided that negotiations with extremists will be conditional and there will be no dialogue till they are ready to disarm.

The government will fight extremists who refuse to give up their weapons, the report said.

The meeting also approved the reconstitution of the DCC into the Cabinet Committee on National Security. The CCNS will be chaired by the Prime Minister and include ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Interior and Finance, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman and chiefs of the army, navy and air force.

The CCNS will focus on the national security agenda to frame a national security policy that will become the guiding framework for subsidiary policies like defence policy, foreign policy and internal security policy.

The meeting was attended by the Ministers for Finance, Information and Interior, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman and the three service chiefs.

Snehesh Alex Philip in Islamabad
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