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Pak response to India's proposals next week

October 26, 2003 18:27 IST

Pakistan will give its response to India's peace proposals next week, daily Dawn quoted officials as saying.

According to the newspaper Pakistan is not 'unwilling' to discuss 'softer' issues.

Dawn said Pakistan's reaction will be drafted at the ongoing inter-ministerial consultations and will be reviewed by President Pervez Musharraf next week.

"There would be no delay from our side as internal consultations are taking place right now," the officials said.

The inter-ministerial meetings are being held at the instance of the Pakistan Foreign Office to sort out issues concerning restoration of overflights, rail links, easing of visa procedure and detained fishermen, they said.

After the meetings, the Pakistan Foreign Office plans to give a detailed briefing to Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali following which the reaction will be made public.

Pakistani officials said that much of the proposals announced by New Delhi were part of the confidence building measures announced by Jamali in May this year in response to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's offer of talks.

"In fact we are waiting for India's reply on this issue and as such there is nothing new on this count," they said.

India has already said that rail links would be restored only after the resumption of the air links.

They also said some of the Indian proposals had 'already been taken' up by Pakistan. Jamali has proposed the resumption of the Mumbai-Karachi ferry service, which was suspended in 1965, they said.

Similarly, Pakistan has expressed its desire to strengthening contacts between the coast guards of the two countries to prevent largescale arrests of fishermen of both the countries.

"Moreover, our prime minister was the first to call for resumption of sporting ties, including cricket," they said. Pakistan, they added, was the first to call for restoration of rail links 'but it was rejected and now India had included it in its peace proposals'.

The officials also said Pakistan also proposed increase in the high commissions' staff both in Islamabad and New Delhi to the original position of 110, which existed before India reduced it by half in December 2001.

"Over this issue Indians were to come back to us but they included it in their so-called peace initiative," a source said.

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