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Pak response laced with conditions, sarcasm

October 29, 2003 16:25 IST
Last Updated: October 29, 2003 18:49 IST

Pakistan on Wednesday responded to India's 12-point peace package announced on October 22 accepting a majority of Delhi's proposals, including a bus service between Srinagar and Muzzaffarabad, but attaching conditions to most of them.

Pakistan, on its part, made some 'Kashmir-specific' proposals clearly aimed at embarrassing Delhi. Islamabad not only offered scholarships to Kashmiri students, it also extended help to 'widows, rape victims and those with injuries' in the Valley.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar at a press conference in Islamabad said his country has accepted the dates suggested by India to start a technical-level dialogue on re-establishing air links.

The talks may now start on December 1 as proposed by India.

"We have carefully studied the Indian proposals and have decided to respond positively. We hope that India would
also respond positively to Pakistani proposals," he said.

Khokhar said Pakistan welcomes the proposal to restart Samjhauta Express and proposes an Amritsar-Lahore bus service to improve people-to-people contacts.

He, however, made it clear that the talks on air links must not be linked to the restoration of rail services between the two countries.

Responding to the Indian proposal to provide free treatment to 20 more Pakistani children, Khokhar said Pakistan will also provide free treatment to Indian children at the Karachi Heart Institute.

He said Pakistan welcomes India's proposal to start a ferry service between Mumbai and Karachi, but added wryly that Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray's reaction to the Indian move was not very encouraging.

The foreign secretary said he is glad that India has accepted his prime minister's proposal to restore sporting ties.

On India's proposal to open visa camps, he said Pakistan accepts the idea in principal but its implementation will depend on the level of embassy staff strength the two countries agree upon.

On allowing senior citizens to cross the Wagah border on foot, Khokhar said his country has "no difficulty in accepting this."

On additional bus services between Delhi and Lahore, he said: "If the proposal to restart Samjhauta Express is accepted by India, I think then additional bus services may not be required."

Khokhar said Pakistan has proposed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Maritime Security of Pakistan and the Indian Coast Guard.

On frequent arrests of each others' fishermen, Khokhar said: "This is a humanitarian issue and both countries should find out ways and means to alleviate the problem."

Pakistan's response was handed over to the Indian High Commissioner Shivshankar Menon, who was invited to the Foreign Office by Khokhar shortly before he addressed the press conference.


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