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Pak to expedite gas pipeline: Kasuri

By Nistula Hebbar in Lahore
November 22, 2004 11:08 IST
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Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said the government of Pakistan would do everything in its power to clear the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, while addressing the South Asian Free Media Association Conference in Lahore on Sunday.

"Unless the move is stalled by pettiness and bickering, the pipeline is well on its way," he said. Terming the move to establish the pipeline as a great confidence building measure (CBM), Kasuri said the presence of a common pipeline would engender trust between the two countries.

"This is not just because I have been friends with Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for a long time, but because I feel this and the South Asian Free Trade Agreement will actually bring us closer to peace," he said.

He added that the Srinagar-Muzzafarabad bus link would also be a reality soon. "Both sides are positive about it," he said, adding, "We need grand gestures like this in public, as well as private interactions to ensure good relations," he added.

On Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's remarks on "cold vibes" between the two countries, Kasuri said Musharraf was not speaking out of anger but was "pained".

"The President was pained and angry, and I do see light at the end of the tunnel," he added.

In an oblique reference to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Kashmir last week, Kasuri said there could be no solution to the Kashmir issue without the Kashmiri people.

"A solution without involving the Kashmiris will not ensure lasting peace as it will be peace without honour," he said.

"The last 57 years have shown us that neither India nor Pakistan are in a position to impose their will on each other," he added.

"There are grey areas in our relations with each other and if I may say so, they are best left grey," he added.

Kasuri was all praise for the previous National Democratic Alliance regime and asked Opposition parties in both countries to play a positive role in the matter.

"I want to tell former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the BJP that nothing can take away the credit of improving relations between the two countries from them," he said.

He revealed that he had invited BJP President LK Advani to Pakistan for a visit. "Indo-Pak ties should transcend party politics," he added.

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Nistula Hebbar in Lahore

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