Peaceful, democratic & stable Pak in India’s interest: envoy

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Islamabad: A peaceful, democratic and stable Pakistan is in the interest of India and the two countries should nurture their peace process as incidents like the ceasefire violations along the Line of Control disturb the friendly atmosphere in the region, Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal said on Monday.

He made the remarks while interacting with reporters at a reception organised at a hotel here on Monday night to mark India's Republic Day.

Sabharwal said India wants good relations with Pakistan and it has been New Delhi's policy that ties with Islamabad are based on mutual interest and benefit.

"It is necessary that the peace process should be carefully nurtured and efforts should be made that the peace process is not damaged," he said.

Referring to the recent ceasefire violations along the LoC, the envoy said these incidents had enhanced tension and disturbed the friendly atmosphere between the two countries.

After the Directors General of Military Operations of both sides spoke on their hotline, the two countries agreed to resolve the issue through a bilateral mechanism that was already in place and the situation improved, Sabharwal said.

The firing across the LoC had stopped and this was a welcome sign, he added.

Referring to statements by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Sabharwal said the recent incidents had not derailed the bilateral peace process or caused irreversible damage.

He expressed the hope that the improvement in the atmosphere along the LoC would be durable and the ceasefire violations would not be repeated.

All information regarding the ceasefire violation had been shared between the two countries at appropriate levels, he said.

Trade was continuing between the two countries except at one point on the LoC and this point too had been reopened today, he added.

Sabharwal acknowledged that some incidents, like the return of some Pakistani hockey players from India and the cancellation of plays by Pakistani theatre groups, had created misunderstanding.

The Indian government had repeatedly clarified that it was not involved in such incidents and the organisers of events had made the decisions, he said.

Pakistani delegations were still visiting India and the Pakistani women's cricket team is currently in India.

A number of writers are attending a literature festival in Jaipur while a business delegation is participating in a leather fair, he said.

Sabharwal noted that 2013 is an important year for Pakistan as the country will go to the polls to chose a new government.

The upcoming polls are a milestone for the country's democratic process, he said.

Asked about the granting of Most Favoured Nation-status to India, he said the decision would have to be made by Pakistan.

Under the World Trade Organisation agreement, Pakistan is bound to liberalise trade with India, he said.

A large number of people attended the Republic Day reception hosted by the Indian envoy, including politicians, diplomats, members of the business community and journalists.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Faisal Karim Kundi, Federal Ministers Rehman Malik, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Farooq Sattar and Ghafoor Haideri, and PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain were among the members of parliament who attended the event.

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