M A I N   N E W S

Pak response to peace moves by next week

Islamabad, October 26
Pakistan is expected to give next week its point-by-point response to India’s fresh peace package and is not ‘unwilling’ to discuss ‘softer’ issues, a local daily quoting officials reported today.

Pakistan was expected to give its detailed reaction to India’s 12-point peace proposals after the ongoing inter-ministerial consultations and a detailed review by President Pervez Musharraf next week. ‘Dawn’ quoted the officials as saying.

The officials said Islamabad was not ‘unwilling’ to discuss ‘softer issues’ first as proposed by India, even though it believed that without holding dialogue with it and Kashmiris, the Indo-Pak ties would not improve.

“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, planned to give a detailed briefing to Mr Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in a day or two following which the reaction would be made public.

Pakistani officials said that much of the proposals announced by New Delhi were part of the confidence-building measures announced by Mr 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.”

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 Mr Jamali had proposed the resumption of the Mumbai-Karachi ferry service, which was suspended in 1965, they said.

Similarly, Pakistan had expressed its desire to strengthening contacts between the coast guards of the two countries to prevent the 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, adding that Pakistan 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. — PTI

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