India-Pak must resolve ''core issue'' to boost peace process:Pak

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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 12 (PTI) India and Pakistan will haveto resolve the "core issue" of Kashmir according to theaspirations of the Kashmiri people if they want to give aboost to the peace process that is set to be resumed after aninterregnum of over two years, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashirsaid today.

Referring to recent public protests in Jammu andKashmir, Bashir said that "unless this core issue is resolvedsatisfactorily in accordance with the aspirations of ourKashmiri brothers and sisters, I don''t see prospects in termsof a self-propelling peace process".

The upcoming talks to be held ahead of the PakistaniForeign Minister''s visit to New Delhi in July will have to"take cognisance of what has happened in the past in dialoguewith India...and the actual ground situation" in Jammu andKashmir, Bashir said, while addressing a briefing organised bythe Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Pakistan.

There had been a "resurfacing of the uprising ofKashmiri youth, women and civil society" that was being"increasingly acknowledged by the international community andthis cannot be wished away", he claimed.

"That has given an urgency to dealing with this coreissue," he added.

At the same time, the two sides will have to focus onprogress made in the past on the Kashmir issue, includingconfidence-building measures for cross-Line of Control traveland trade, Bashir said in response to questions.

"I don�t think we should jettison all the good workthat was done by predecessors over 60 years, we should alsonot be lost totally in the archives," he said

"We need to approach these things with a great degreeof clarity. We should also have clarity in what is doable andnot doable and what timeframe is doable," the top diplomatsaid.

Asked about former Foreign Minister Khurshid MehmoodKasuri''s remarks that the two countries were close to asettlement on Kashmir during the military regime of PervezMusharraf, Bashir appeared to distance himself from suchclaims and said discussions at that time were held on the backchannel alone.

"There could be good discussions on the back channel,well intentioned, but they never acquired any status if theyare never discussed the way it normally happens officially,"he said.

Following the decision at the meeting of the ForeignSecretaries in Thimphu to resume the stalled dialogue,Pakistan will approach the parleys with "an open andconstructive mind" with a view to dealing with as many issuesas possible, he said.

The peace process is "work in progress", he said.

"We are just resuming the process but hopefullybeginning with a new spirit," he added. .

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