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Rediff.com  » News » Pak links Afghan transit to Kashmir

Pak links Afghan transit to Kashmir

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August 28, 2005 20:47 IST
Pakistan has rejected India's request for opening the Wagah border for transportation of its goods to Afghanistan, saying that the transit trade would not be allowed without progress in resolving the Kashmir issue.

Reacting to recent remarks by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran that Pakistan should open the transit route to improve trade relations in the region, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Islamabad would only open the door for transit trade if progress is made on the "core issue" of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Wagah border has been opened for passage of Afghan goods to India but "reverse traffic" -- transport of Indian goods through Pakistan -- could not be allowed, Aziz told a press conference in Lahore yesterday.

Is trade with Pakistan possible?

"We'll have to move in tandem with the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir," he said, replying to a question.

Aziz's remarks came ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Afghanistan as well as the meeting between Singh and Pesident Pervez Musharraf in New York next month.

Also, Pakistan has informed India that it would allow a pipeline to pass through its territory if New Delhi was interested in buying gas from a third country, Aziz said. Pakistan would go it alone if India was not interested in building the gas pipeline because Pakistan needed to cater to its growing energy needs, he said.

Pakistan to closely watch PM's Afghanistan visit

Aziz said the lasting peace in the region would not be possible without the resolution of the Kashmir issue and noted that leaders of the two countries would be meeting during the weeks and months ahead to discuss various matters.

 "Pakistan is a peace-loving country, having no aggressive designs against anyone. We want the outstanding issues settled for the progress and prosperity of the region," he said, adding he was "very pleased" with the production of the cruise missile through indigenous means.

The missile and the nuclear programme "guaranteed peace" in the region, Aziz claimed.

He said Pakistan was capable of defending its frontiers and would not compromise its sovereignty. Aziz made these remarks when asked to comment on the proposed joint Indo-Russia military exercises along the Rajasthan border.

Expressing his opposition to the bid of India and G-4 countries for permanent membership of the UN Security Council, he said Pakistan supported UN reforms but was against increasing the number of permanent members of the UNSC.

He said representation of non-permanent members in UNSC should be enhanced and noted that many other members of the world body, including China, supported this point of view.

On the Iran-US row over Tehran's nuclear programme, he said Pakistan would not support any military action against Iran.

"We want the EU initiative to succeed. We don't support a military action (against Iran). We want a solution of the problem, maintaining peace in the region," he said, adding Pakistan wanted the settlement of the issue through peaceful means.

More reports from:  Pakistan | Afghanistan

KJM Varma in Islamabad
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