Thursday 9 February 2012

Kashmir issue corner stone of Pakistan’s foreign policy: PM

ISLAMABAD, Feb 6th 2012 (APP): Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani while reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to continue to extend moral,political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris in their just struggle for the right of self determination said on Sunday, Kashmir issue remained the corner stone of Pakistan’s foreign policy.“We are committed to continue with the moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. The whole nation including all the political parties are united on the cause of Kashmir,” Gilani said while addressing the Kashmir Convention held here at Prime Minister Secretariat in connection with the Kashmir Solidarity Day.

The Prime Minister said Kashmir policy had been in focus of the PPP led government in line with the vision of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was founded on the cause of Kashmir.
Gilani said the success of PPP in the Azad Kashmir elections was also dividend of the party’s policy on Kashmir and the support to Kashmiris, adding, observing February 5 as Kashmir Solidarity Day was the initiative of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and was given permanency by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.
The Prime Minister,however, added that since Pakistan is a responsible country and nation as well as a responsible nuclear power, it has to make responsible policies.
Gilani said with four wars already fought on this issue (Kashmir), the region still was a flash point, adding, “but in this 21st century, we cannot afford wars.”
“We want to resolve the issues through dialogue, diplomacy,prudent policy and national consensus,” he remarked.
The Prime Minister said the country’s policies should be made with national consensus and by the chosen representatives of masses and not by the individuals.
Gilani cited the best policy of Pakistan China friendship and said the whole nation was united on it and wanted to take this friendship forward, adding, like in the case of Pakistan’s policy on China, there was no difference of opinion on Kashmir cause.
The Prime Minister, however, mentioned that there were question marks in Pakistan’s policy on Afghanistan, as it was made by a dictator, who was wearing four hats: the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chief of Army Staff, the President and Chief Executive, but could not sustain the pressure after a call from the US Under Secretary.
In contrast, he added, after the November 26, 2011 attack on Pakistani border posts, the whole nation under the democratic government stood united and solid and “we halted NATO supply line, got the Shamsi Airbase vacated and boycotted the Bonn Conference.”
Prime Minister Gilani said the issue of NATO attack was also referred to the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, which comprised the chosen representatives and had complete backing of the people of Pakistan.
The Committee has finalized its recommendations and now the Joint Sitting of the Parliament would debate on the issue and would make a decision, he said, adding, the decision to be made by chosen representatives would be reflective of the aspirations of the masses.
“Gone are the days, when the foreign policy was made by individuals. Now, the policies would be made by the chosen representatives and through the Parliament,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the Parliament would debate on all issues and policies including Kashmir policy, nuclear policy, new terms of engagement with United States (US), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), adding, these policies would have the backing of 180 million people, as they would know that these policies were finalized by their representatives.
He said the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir would be honoured and the government would seek guidance from the Committee on Kashmir policy.
The Prime Minister referred to his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh (in Maldives) and said the two sides agreed to discuss all the core issues including Kashmir.
Regarding the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India,Gilani said, it was approved by the Cabinet with a consensus decision, adding, but the MFN was not a special status as generally
apprehended, rather it was non discrimination in trade like with other 100 countries of the world.
The decision was meant to hold trade talks, adding, but the government would never compromise on national interests.
He also mentioned that the cross LoC (Line of Control) trade between Azad Kashmir and the Indian held Kashmir since 2008 had reached around Rs 15 billion, adding, “but the cross LoC trade does not mean that we will back out from the issue of Kashmir.”
“This is my message for the Kashmiri brethren that we are committed to continue to extend moral, political and diplomatic support to them,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the Kashmiris had been struggling for their right for the last over 60 years and had rendered lot of sacrifices and embraced martyrdoms, adding, it was for the first time that the Indian Prime Minister while standing with him said that the two sides were ready to discuss all core issues including Kashmir.
“This is the way forward. We have convinced them,” he added.The Prime Minister assured that Pakistan would use all forums including the OIC, EU, US and others and would be in the
forefront to get the Kashmir dispute resolved.

Associated Press of Pakistan 

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