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Indo-Pak talks: Dialogue is the best option, says Pakistan's Nafees Zakaria

Speed News team | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

Dialogue is the best option between Pakistan and India and the two sides should not think in terms "foreclosing any options", a top Pakistani official said on 14 April.

"During Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's visit to Pakistan in December 2015, it was decided that the two Foreign Secretaries should meet soon. It is hoped that both sides would work out modalities for the Foreign Secretary-level talks," Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said when asked if the word "suspended" correctly defines the current state of the bilateral peace process.

"We need to look ahead and not think in terms foreclosing any options. Both sides are in contact with each other. Once the modalities are worked out Secretary-level talks would take place," he said.

"Dialogue is the best option! Diplomacy is for interaction and engagement between countries," he said.

Zakaria's comments come days after Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said the bilateral peace process stands "suspended". When asked if the position in Islamabad is similar to Pakistan's High Commissioner to New Delhi, he said, "There is a difference between comments on day to day ground situation as compared to broader policy and future vision and prospects. At our level here in the Ministry, we do not give a day-to-day running commentary on official policy."

He said Pakistan was committed to resolving all outstanding issues with India through a sustainable, uninterrupted and meaningful dialogue without any preconditions, in order to address each other's concerns, and establish lasting peace.

On a question regarding the death of Indian prisoner Kirpal Singh in a Pakistani jail, Zakaria said he died due to heart attack and assured that preparation were underway to send his body to India.

He said Singh was convicted by an anti-terrorism court for spying. "It is not appropriate to see everything through the prism of suspicion and conspiracy. He was kept in intensive care at the hospital but he could not survive," he said.

India had raised the issue of Singh's mysterious death with Pakistan authorities and sought a probe into the matter. "We have communicated this information to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. We are in contact with the Ministry of Interior and the India High Commission with regard to transportation of the body to India," Zakaria said.

On the Pathankot investigation, Zakaria said that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) after visiting India was "evaluating the information shared by the Indian side" which is part of the ongoing investigation into the Pathankot attack.

On a question about alleged Indian 'spy' arrested in Pakistan on charges of terrorism, Zakaria said investigations are still going on regarding Kulbhushan Jadhav and some arrests were already made as a result of interrogation. "As investigations continue more aspects related to this may come to light," he said.

He said Pakistan expects its neighbour to respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity by refraining from any interference or subversive activities.

The recent arrest and confessional statement by the RAW's officer has validated Pakistan's position that Indian state institutions are involved in conducting terrorist activities in Pakistan, he claimed.

Zakaria said that Pakistan was a peace-loving nation and maintenance of peace and stability in South Asia is the cornerstone of Pakistan's policy.

"We are opposed to conventional or nuclear arms race in the region. Pakistan's conventional military and nuclear capability is solely for self-defense and we are committed to credible minimum deterrence," he said.

He said there was an increased understanding at the international level of Pakistan's genuine concerns regarding rapidly growing Indian conventional and nuclear capabilities and their offensive force postures and military doctrines such as the Cold Start Doctrine.

"Our proposal for Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) can provide a basis for mutually agreed restraint measures and avoidance of unnecessary arms race in the region. We believe that the limited resources of Pakistan and India should be channelled to meeting the social needs of our people," he said.

He also expressed concern over recent violence in Kashmir. "We expressed our deep concern on what is going on in Handwara," he said, adding, "We have always condemned these violations and would continue to extend political, moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people".

Zakaria also spoke about the issue of LoC ceasefire violations. "We believe in observance of 2003 LOC ceasefire agreement. The issues related to the international borders, LOC and Working Boundary are addressed in the spirit of rules of engagement on ground. The mechanism of DG MOs' consultation plays an effective role," he said.

First published: 15 April 2016, 10:27 IST