India not 'stealing' Pak's water, scarcity due to wastage, mismanagement: Qureshi

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Islamabad, May.1 (ANI): Call it the 'positive' effect of the 'spirited' talks that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the XVIth South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Thimpu, Islamabad's tone over the river water sharing issue seems to have suddenly changed.

Rubbishing claims of some of his country's leaders, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has clarified that India is not 'stealing' Pakistan's share of water, and that the scarcity was primarily due to wastage and mismanagement.

Interacting with media persons during a press conference here after arriving from Thimpu, Qureshi struck a 'optimistic' tone, saying he intends to contact Indian counterpart S M Krishna as soon as the Parliament's budget session concludes on May 7.

Responding to a question, he said it was not important to name any future deliberations between both countries as a 'composite dialogue', but the intent is to discuss all outstanding issues like Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and water distribution.

"If all issues are to be discussed, whether you call it comprehensive dialogue, composite dialogue or whatever you want, that is not important. The spirit behind that is important, the spirit is right," The News quoted Qureshi, as saying.

He said the outcome of talks between Dr. Singh and Gilani was 'more than what was expected'.

"It is a step in the right direction, a concrete development and we will build on it," Qureshi said.

He also admitted that there is a trust deficit between the two neighbours which cannot be bridged overnight, and that it needed a sustained effort from both sides to address the issue.

"We have to bridge it through confidence-building measures. We have to be realistic and pragmatic. It will not happen in a day, it is a process. If we allow the process to continue, obviously with passage of time, the deficit will be narrowed down," Qureshi said. (ANI)

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