Pak govt committed to improve relations with India

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari is making all possible efforts to improve India-Pakistan relations and the current government is actively pursuing a policy that will lead to a qualitative improvement in relations with New Delhi, acting President Farooq Naek said today.

Naek made the remarks at a reception he hosted on Wednesday night for a visiting Indian parliamentary delegation led by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. Naek said the dialogue and the healthy exchange of ideas were essential for resolving all "core issues between the two countries, including Kashmir and water issues".

President Zardari had "made it a point to make all efforts possible to improve Pakistan-India relations", he said. The current government is "actively pursuing a policy to bring about a qualitative improvement in relations with India", he added.

Pakistan wanted peaceful and friendly relations with all its neighbours, including India, as it believed in the need for greater cooperation for regional stability, said Naek, the chairman of the Senate or upper house of parliament.

Naek, who acted as host for the reception as Zardari was away on a private visit to Dubai, said: "It`s time we solve all our issues, including Kashmir and water, for peace and better relationship through an open, meaningful and result- oriented dialogue, keeping in view aspirations and wishes of the people and international law, which would herald a new beginning and bring peace, prosperity and economic well-being for all of us".

The two countries should revive the spirit of "burying the hatchet and moving forward", which was exemplified by the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Indira Gandhi when they signed the Simla Agreement in "very difficult circumstances", Naek said.

The sole objective of that pact was to end conflict and confrontation, promote friendly relations and work for establishment of a durable peace in the subcontinent, he said.

Naek pointed out that Pakistan was the "biggest victim of terrorism" as it had lost over 30,000 civilians and more than 5,000 personnel of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies.

The economy was in disarray because money that should be spent on development was diverted to the fight against terrorism, he said.

Despite these sacrifices, Pakistan faced criticism, he remarked. "I categorically state that Pakistan is against terrorism in all its forms and manifestation, whether committed by an individual, group or state.

"We are committed to fighting terrorism to its very end and would not allow terrorists to use our territory for their nefarious designs," he said.

Naek and Lok Sabha Speaker Kumar underlined the need to promote people-to-people contacts and cooperation between Pakistan and India in various fields for the good of the people.

They emphasised the need to forge a more multi-layered partnership to confront multifaceted common challenges. Kumar said she had come to Pakistan with a message of peace and friendship.

She said there is an urgent need to promote people-to- people contacts and that the establishment of a Friendship Forum of the two parliaments was a good omen.
She agreed there were several issues between India and Pakistan that needed solution.

She said she was happy that the bilateral dialogue process was going on and added she was sure the problems would soon be resolved.

"I am sure we will be able to find solutions to these issues which will be satisfactory for the people of two countries," she remarked. Earlier, during a meeting, Naek and Kumar agreed to enhance people-to-people contacts and visits by parliamentary delegations.

They stressed the need to relax the visa regime for parliamentarians of SAARC countries.