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India trying to sidestep Kashmir issue: Gilani

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
February 11, 2010 16:03 IST
Upping the ante, Pakistan on Thursday accused India of trying to sidestep the Kashmir issue and insisted on its inclusion in the upcoming foreign secretary- level talks, saying the composite dialogue on all outstanding issues is the 'only way forward.'

"In fact, they (India) do not want to talk about Kashmir," Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told reporters on the sidelines of an official function.

He was replying to a question on India's proposal for the foreign secretaries-level talks.

In contrast to India's reluctance to resume the composite dialogue for now, Gilani made it clear that the process, covering eight issues including Kashmir and stalled since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, is the 'only way forward.'

Following a meeting between Pakistan's high commissioner to India Shahid Malik and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao in New Delhi, officials of the two sides were in touch to work out dates and modalities for talks, Gilani said.

Rao had proposed February 18 and 25 as dates for the talks with her Pakistan counterpart Salman Bashir. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi indicated that February 25 suited Pakistan, saying it is 'not a bad date.'

India has said it will raise its serious concerns on terrorism emanating from Pakistan during the talks. "I believe we should move forward. Common sense states that talks should be held as soon as possible," Qureshi said.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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