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With trade, Siachen and Kashmir must move in tandem: Pak

Last updated on: June 08, 2012 14:51 IST
Observing that only trade ties have seen tangible progress in the resumed talks with India, Pakistan on Friday said all issues, including Siachen and Kashmir, must also "move in tandem" to sustain the peace process.

Terming the current atmospherics between the two countries as "satisfactory", Shahid Malik, who is on his way out after serving as the High Commissioner of Pakistan for the longest time-period, said "small dents" have also started appearing in the "trust-deficit".

However, he warned that there was a very "small window of opportunity" which should be seized by the two countries to make best while "going was good" between India and Pakistan. "I feel dents have started to show by these frequent meetings and interactions," and that "there are some areas where one can notice a lot of progress," Malik told PTI in an interview.

"But I will very quickly add, it is also important that other issues and problems that have not moved forward should also move alongside. It should not be that one reaches the finish point and others are still in the middle," he said.

Elaborating further, the Pakistan high commissioner said it is "good" that trade relations are increasing because they create a momentum of their own, a momentum, which makes things move forward. "But I would want that along with this, progress should be made on other issues like Siachen, Sir Creek, Kashmir, water issues. There should be a move forward in these also. There is a golden phrase, all issues must move in tandem," he said.

Asked if he meant there was no progress happening in the issues mentioned by him, Malik said, "It is not happening to such a level it should happen. It is very good that trade is going forward, but, I would want that other things to move forward with the same speed."

Asked about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks during his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari that India will judge Pakistan on the steps taken by it on terror, Malik argued that there were no terrorist 'safe havens' in his country and that it was serious about the ongoing 26/11 Mumbai attack case trial in Rawalpindi.

"There is no such (safe havens) thing. We are not into the business of exporting terror. We are ourselves the biggest victim of terror. So why anyone in his right mind would like to have safe havens on one's territory. We don't believe in that, we don't have it," he said.

Malik added, "We categorically reject this insinuation, this accusation that there are safe havens in Pakistan which is directed at India. No, there is no such thing."

Rejecting that there was any deliberate move to slow down the Mumbai case trial by frequent change of judges, Malik said, "If judges are changed, it does not mean that Pakistan is trying to delay the case. It is just a procedural matter."

The judge in the trial happening in Pakistan was changed for the fifth time early this week.

Malik said Pakistan was moving ahead with the case at right speed and mentioned the recent visit of a Pakistani judicial commission to India to record statements. He said Pakistan wants to fast-track the case.

At the same time, he mentioned that Pakistan was keenly awaiting answers in the Samjhauta blast case since more than 60 Pakistanis were killed.

Asked about the possibility of cricket ties being resumed, he counted the non-renewal of this as the biggest low of his tenure. "I think there is no better sight for a cricket lover like me to see two giants of cricket playing against each other in sportsman spirit. I hope this get revived soon," he said.

Talking about the ongoing talks, Malik said, "We are passing through a very satisfying phase of our bilateral relations. Talks are happening at all levels and all issues are being discussed. I am leaving at a time when both sides are talking at full throttle.

"Every conceivable issue between India and Pakistan is being discussed at official level, at ministerial level. Interactions have taken place at the highest political level," he said while giving credit to the political leadership for resumption of the talks that had broken down following the Mumbai terror attack in 2008.

"There has been a realisation that there is no option but to talk to each other even if we sit across the table and agree to disagree. Even that is better than not talking," he said.

Stressing that the "window of opportunity" was small, he said, "The situation is good right now. Both sides are talking and all those who matter in Pakistan are on the same page that relations with India should be better. Be it opposition, government, civil society or media. So this is a very nice mood, climate."

Asked if he used the expression "small window of opportunity" because of fear of any untoward incident impacting on the dialogue process, he said, "That is why I said such steps should be taken which are irreversible. I hope nothing happens. I hope things move forward like it has been for the last two years or so."

"I would want the talks to move forward in the same environment. While the going is good, and I hope it remains good forever, we should seize the opportunity, make use of it for steps to be taken at permanent level."

Replying to a question about how he would sum up his five-year tenure in New Delhi, Malik said, "I am taking back lot of good memories. I am going back with good feeling having served as the longest-ever high commissioner, either from India or Pakistan or Pakistan to India.

"I am leaving as a much satisfied person because bilateral relations are back on track. We are talking to each other; we are discussing issues. It is not that we get up after every meeting having resolved the issues but we are moving forward. That is a good feeling."

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