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Rediff.com  » News » Pak raises Balochistan in talks

Pak raises Balochistan in talks

January 17, 2006 18:40 IST

Pakistan raised the issue of Balochistan at the two-day foreign secretary level talks between India and Pakistan at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday and charged India with interfering in its internal affairs.

"The issue was raised during the course of the discussions," Navtej Sarna, spokesman for the ministry of external affairs, told newsmen at a press conference after the initial deliberations between the two sides. The Indian delegation is being led by foreign secretary Shyam Saran, while his counterpart Riaz Ahmed Khan is leading the Pakistani side.

"The charge was rejected by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, who said that the statement made by India in respect to Balochistan did not amount to interfering in Pakistan's internal affairs."

Saran told the Pakistani side that the developments in Balochistan is of concern to India.

The talks were held for two and a half hours and discussions continued over a working lunch.

According to Sarna, the two sides looked at the developments in the first two rounds of talks and the milestones reached during the earlier talks.

Pakistani side appreciated the installation of hotline between the two foreign secretaries that was effectively used during the October 2005 earthquake.

India has handed over two proposals to the Pakistani side for consideration. In one India proposed that no new defence posts be created along the border and the Line of Control. The other is holding flag meetings at the Brigade Commander level. Pakistan has promised to revert back to India soon.

Talking about the nuclear confidence building measures, Sarna said that Pakistani side is still considering the memorandum of understanding that was submitted to them during the last round of talks which spells out how to prevent nuclear facilities from falling into the wrong hands.

"Among other things trade links betweens the two sides were also discussed. Both sides agreed that the opening of routes along the Line of Control have allowed more and more people to go across. We have proposed extending the rail-links from Karachi to Ajmer to allow pilgrims to visit Ajmer Sharif. The issue of Kashmir did not come up discussion on Tuesday. It would come up only on Wednesday," Sarna said.

India offered to assist Pakistan in setting up its consulate in Mumbai and that it would talk to the government of Maharashtra in this regard. "The Pakistani side expressed in difficulty in hiring a premises in Mumbai and we offered to help them," he added.

Both countries are looking at the feasibility of increasing the number of flights between the countries to 24. "During talks the Indian side mentioned the issue of terrorism on the whole but no specific case was mentioned in today's talks," he said.

According to sources in the ministry of external affairs, the Pakistani side has not given any positive response to uproot the infrastructure of terror from Pakistani soil. The issue of Siachen though mentioned in the deliberations would come up for detailed discussions on Wednesday.

Onkar Singh in New Delhi
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