Sunday, Dec 14, 2003
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India & World
By B. Muralidhar Reddy
Islamabad did not dismiss Mr. Vajpayee's proposal outright but emphasised the need to resolve all disputes as a pre-requisite. The Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesman, Masood Khan, said the suggestion of open borders and single currency was not unrealistic but it was a difficult path to tread and demanded hard work, firm resolve and sincerity.
He said the proposal had to go a long way to materialise. Pakistan always supported the idea of cooperation among the South Asian countries. The idea has been taken from the European Union. ``Before reaching such an agreement, the E.U. countries had resolved all mutual disputes to ensure cooperation at all levels,'' he said and added that the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was another example of such cooperation.
Mr. Khan said Pakistan was hosting the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in January, in which all countries will discuss cooperation in areas of economic, trade and cultural relations. ``An atmosphere of trust in South Asia can only be created with the just resolution of disputes among the SAARC countries.''
A resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people was imperative for peace in the region. He also underscored the need for ending the arms race in the region. He said that the SAARC countries needed to promote the culture of equality, instead of trying to dominate each other, to help the cause of peace, security and trust.
He said India should initiate a dialogue with Pakistan for the peaceful resolution of the issue. ``Dreams of progress and cooperation could only come true through peace and tranquillity,'' Mr. Khan said.
Need for dialogue
Separately, the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Khursheed Mehmud Kasuri, said, ``The real issue is to remove these negative factors from our relations and this can only be possible if there is a dialogue. There is no invention in the world which can solve issues without a dialogue. The first step will be the meetings at the SAARC.''
He said that India and Pakistan should not waste further time as both had a ``home-grown'' plan towards peace. ``A lot of work has been done at the Secretarial level, the [Pakistan] President, Pervez Musharraf, has met Mr. Vajpayee and we should move quickly to remove all these mistrusts and unwarranted suspicions,'' he said.
Mr. Kasuri recalled that during the last few months when there was no forward movement between the two countries people had become disillusioned and many had started to doubt if peace was possible between the two countries. He said Pakistan welcomed the ``tone of friendship'' from New Delhi and this would help carry forward the process. ``Mr. Vajpayee will find similar feelings on this side,'' he said. However, he was not ready to comment on the open borders and single currency proposal, as he did not have a chance to see the text of the speech.
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