Pakistan has said it is willing to look at options other than UN resolutions to settle the Kashmir problem, but made it clear that is has no plans to 'abandon Kashmir'.
"On Kashmir we are willing to look at options other than the UN resolutions. We realise these are what give Pakistan's position legitimacy in Kashmir but the UN resolutions were made 50 years ago. Has it solved the Kashmir issue?" Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri told the Gulf News in an interview.
He gave the interview on Wednesday, a day after India and Pakistan issued a joint statement in Islamabad announcing holding of composite dialogue on bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, after talks between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf.
"We have no plans to abandon Kashmir. Indeed, we have made sure it is part of the declaration (joint statement), that it is part of the composite dialogue," he said, while urging opposition parties not to make political capital of the Kashmir issue.
Kasuri was reacting to the rising displeasure of jihadi elements, rattled by the Pakistan government's promise not to allow itself to become a haven of terror.
Characterising a thaw in Indo-Pak ties as 'relations on the mend', Kasuri said both the countries have realised the way forward is not through war but dialogue and cooperation.
He said the international community had played a major role in pushing both nations to come to an agreement. Pakistan, he said, was quick to buy in on the argument.
"We came to the realisation first, followed by India," the foreign minister said. "We must now cash in on the feel good factor to create a peaceful South Asia that is attractive to FDIs. An idea certain to become irresistible."
Asked what had changed and what prompted India to offer talks without holding Pakistan to the precondition of an end to 'cross-border terrorism', Kasuri credited the confidence of both leaders in leaving aside the baggage of the last 54 years and having the courage to signal they were willing to be 'flexible'.
"Such breakthroughs can only happen at the political level, when leaders have the confidence that they can carry it through and they can carry their people with them," he said.
Kasuri said the inner circle kept a tight lid on negotiations so that there would be no room for misreporting or misrepresentation by the media.
"We were working on it till the very last minute, and we kept it completely under wraps," Kasuri said, admitting more than once that he felt 'almost euphoric' over the breakthrough.
While refusing to say exactly when in February talks would commence with some reports indicating it could be as early as February 15, Kasuri also refused to be drawn on whether these would be foreign secretary level talks as widely speculated.
Reacting to groups, which had accused the Pakistan government of a sell-out, Kasuri said, "It is the duty and responsibility of the opposition to refrain from giving this a completely negative spin.
"I urge them to see this as their responsibility not just to their parties but to the nation and to the Kashmiris to support this new initiative. It is in the interest of the Kashmiris and the people of Pakistan that they do."
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