Pak hopes for sustained process of engagement with India

Islamabad: Pakistan is hopeful that the upcoming talks with India will lead to a "meaningful and sustained process of engagement" that will bridge the trust deficit between the two countries and help resolve all outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

Reacting to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s speech in the Indian Parliament on February 24 in which he said dialogue was the only way to resolve differences between the two countries, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said Pakistan "desires good neighbourly relations" with India.

The recent Foreign Secretary-level talks on the sidelines of a SAARC meeting in Thimphu were a "significant breakthrough" as both sides agreed to resume dialogue on all issues, she said in a statement issued last night.

"This holds hope for a meaningful and sustained process of engagement to bridge the trust deficit, resolve all outstanding issues, notably the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, and for creating an enabling environment for promoting peace and prosperity in the region as a whole," Janjua said.

Pakistan agrees with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s "views that development of South Asia will only be possible when Pakistan-India relations are normalised", she said.

Referring to the issue of terrorism, Janjua said Pakistan believes that this is a global and regional phenomenon that "warrants a comprehensive and cooperative approach on the part of all states to eliminate this menace".

Pakistan has suffered "more from terrorism than any other state", she said.

Pakistan is looking forward to the meeting of the Interior and Home Secretaries of Pakistan and India on counter-terrorism, narcotics control and humanitarian issues in New Delhi later this month, she said.

During his speech in parliament, Prime Minister Singh said he hoped Pakistan`s leadership "would grasp the hands of our friendship and recognise that whatever are our differences, terror as an instrument of state policy, is something that no civilised society ought to use".

Though the two countries had made some progress in recent years, there "was a lapse and the terrorist elements would, of course, not allow the process of normalisation to come into effect", Singh said.