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Pakistan playing spoilsport: India

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | October 30, 2003 17:36 IST
Last Updated: October 30, 2003 23:05 IST

India on Thursday voiced disappointment over Pakistan attaching 'impractical and extraneous' conditions to its response to the October 22 peace proposals.

At a press conference in New Delhi, external affairs ministry spokesperson Navtej Sarna, however, welcomed the fact that Islamabad has responded positively to some of 12 proposals.

Also see: Pak response laced with conditions, sarcasm

Sarna said Pakistan's response could slow down the process of normalisation of bilateral ties.

Regarding its offers to Kashmiris -- scholarships to students and treatment to rape victims -- Sarna said Pakistan must not target a particular region or religion.

"We believe that the process of building trust and cooperation between India and Pakistan, and establishing lasting peace, would be facilitated if offers are not targeted at any particular region of India. India has never adopted, for instance, a selective approach for Baluchistan, Sindh or NWFP, or for any particular community," he said.

Sarna said India's offers have been available to any Pakistani. If Pakistan were to make such a non-discriminatory and general offer of cooperation, then it would no doubt contribute to taking the process further.

"If Pakistan's concerns are really sincere, it should take immediate steps to end infiltration, dismantle the infrastructure of support to terrorism and offer compensation to those affected by terrorism it has sponsored. Its references to alleged repression on Jammu and Kashmir are obviously a ploy for its failed attempt to camouflage its sponsorship and support for terrorism," he said.

The spokesperson said Kashmir is not a disputed territory and is thus non-negotiable. He said the only point of negotiation on Kashmir is the illegal occupation of a part of the Valley by Pakistan.

"We are disappointed that Pakistan has, in effect, not agreed to our proposals for running extra buses on the Delhi-Lahore route and establishing links between Mumbai and Karachi, Khokrapar and Munabao [Pakistan] and Srinagar and Muzaffarabad," Sarna said.

He said such links could have facilitated widening of people-to-people contact and cooperation.

Sarna said India's offer for a bus link between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in PoK was motivated by humanitarian considerations: "It is unfortunate that Pakistan instead opted to politicise and disrupt this by attaching conditions that they knew would not be acceptable. In fact, even now people from these regions travel without the requirement of the kind of documents that Pakistan spoke about," he said, referring to Islamabad's proposal that those travelling should do so with UN documents and the check posts on the LoC be manned by UN personnel.

Sarna hoped that the Pakistani civil aviation delegation would come with an open mind when it comes to hold talks with their Indian counterparts on resumption of air links between the two countries.

"We would look forward to holding of technical level talks for resumption of Samjhauta Express in the middle of December as proposed by Pakistan, after successful conclusion of the talks in early December for resumption of civil aviation links," Sarna said.

On Pakistan's proposal for a bus link between Lahore and Amritsar, he said, "We can assess the requirement for this after progress on Delhi-Lahore bus, civil aviation and Samjhauta Express".

Referring to raising the strength of the high commissions, which had been reduced after the attack on Parliament, he said New Delhi was ready for a "calibrated" increase, as the requirement grows with the re-establishment of links, and setting up of new ones.

"However, there is no need to wait for this for holding of visa camps, which would ease the situation for the normal traveller who otherwise has to come all the way to Delhi or Islamabad to get visas. We would urge Pakistan to reconsider this," he said.

Sarna said that despite the limited response from Pakistan, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's peace initiative is gathering momentum.

"India would sincerely continue with the process, building on the successes achieved and the support generated, so that lasting peace is established between the two countries. If Pakistan perceives, as it has claimed, that a composite dialogue is in mutual interest, it must immediately put an end to its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism," he said.

With Inputs from PTI

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