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Peace with India must: Pakistan

Islamabad, February 10
Pakistan today told US special envoy Richard Holbrooke that peace with India is “a must” for it to concentrate on the war against terror along the Afghan border, in an apparent bid to put pressure on Washington to play a more active role in defusing Indo-Pak tensions.

Acknowledging that India and the Kashmir issue are not part of Holbrooke’s mandate, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he had made it clear to the envoy that “if Pakistan has to remain focussed on the western front, a calm eastern front is a must”.

Holbrooke’s “mandate is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Period,” Qureshi told a news conference in the Foreign Office. He said the US had been playing a “positive role” in defusing tensions between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Replying to a question, Qureshi said the Mumbai incident “did not surface” during his meeting with Holbrooke.

Pakistan’s position that the US drone attacks on militants in the tribal areas were counter-productive for the war on terror was conveyed to Holbrooke.

With the administration of new US President Barack Obama undertaking a review of its policy for the region, Pakistan had to be “on board" for such an exercise, Qureshi said.

Holbrooke was quoted by Qureshi as saying that the US intended to complete its review of its regional policy by April 2. Pakistan and the US agreed to set up an inter-agency team led by Holbrooke and Qureshi to review all policies and to design a new strategy. — PTI

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