PM's sincerity about Kashmir cause is above board : Chief of Jamat-i-Islami AJK

ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (APP): Chief of Jamat-i-Islami Azad Jammu and Kashmir Abdur Rashid Turabi said here on Thursday that he did not doubt the sincerity of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to the cause of Kashmir. He said this in PTV's programme "Saverry saverey". The programme was conducted by Khalil Malik. He hoped that he would effectively take up the matter with his Indian counterpart Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visit to Pakistan on February 20. "We should bargain with India particularly on the activities of Indian army in the occupied Kashmir before going to dialogue", he added. To a question he said, present change in Indian attitude is due to international pressure and keeping in view the Indian hypocritic policy, it can be presumed that they are doing this to divert the world's attention. He also assured full support and confidence of Kashmiri leadership to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on handling talks with Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee on the Kashmir issue. He said, at present stage, bilateral dialogues between Pakistan and India are preferable but if the issue reaches to a decisive stage, then Kashmiri leadership should also be included as a party.

No decision on Kashmir without consent of Kashmiris: Zafar

ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (APP)-Religious Minister Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq said the government stands committed to the cause of Kashmir and that no decision would be taken without the consent of the people of Kashmir. Talking to APP here on Thursday, he said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at its meeting with APHC and other Kashmiri leaders, had held out an assurance that there would be no compromise on the Kashmir issue. About the government's stand, the Minister said that Pakistan disapproves the Indian stand on Kashmir. He added that it was not a petty land dispute but involved the fate of 10.25 million people of Kashmir. Therefore, he said, no decision would be taken without the consent of the people of Kashmir. He expressed the commitment that Pakistan would continue moral and political support to the Kashmiri people in their just struggle and categorically assured that interest of the country or the people of Kashmir would not be compromised.

Nuclear explosion a sign of national pride: Wattoo

ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (APP)-Parliamentary Affairs Minister Yasin Khan Wattoo said the nuclear explosion has raised high the national morale and its prestige in the community of the Nations. Pakistan's nuclear status has become a sign of national pride. Terming the May 1998's explosion a major achievement of the PML's government, he said "Now the government is moving ahead to achieve economic prosperity in order to improve the living condition of the common man". In an interview, he said nuclear explosions, projection of Kashmir issue, improvement of law and order and holding of national census are the main achievements of PML government over the past two years. He said, Kashmir issue has effectively raised by the PML government on international fora and now the world community considers this issue as a big threat to global peace and a base for a nuclear war in the region. He said that present government has conducted the national census after the gape of 15 years. This will help the appropriate planing for future development.

Nawaz Sharif may visit India: Aziz

ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (APP)- Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif may visit India on a time yet to be decided by the two sides, Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz said on Thursday. "The initial reports that Prime Minister will accompany Mr. Vajpayee on his return journey to India are not correct," he told a questioner at a press briefing on the visit of Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan on February 20-21. He said Nawaz Sharif is not scheduled to visit India immediately after the bus journey of his Indian counterpart to Lahore. "There will be a visit (by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to India, I presume, but in due course to be agreed by the two sides," he added.

Pakistan to exhaust bilateralism before approaching multilateral forums: Aziz

ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (APP)- Foreign Minister Senator Sartaj Aziz on Thursday said Pakistan would ,"exhaust bilateral process," for a peaceful solution to Kashmir dispute before approaching the multilateral forums. " We are putting entire," emphasis on the bilateral process with a constructive approach to resolve the outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, he told a briefing on the visit of Indian Prime Minister on Feb.20. Atal Behari Vajpayee is reaching Punjab's capital Lahore, on Feb.20, on the occasion of an inaugural bus service between New Delhi and Lahore, for a 2- day visit. He is coming at the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Aziz hoped the talks," at the highest political level," between Vajpayee and Nawaz Sharif,"can be productive." He said,it was under immense international pressure after induction of nuclear factor in South Asia which,"forced India to go back to June, 1997," agreement reached between the two countries at Foreign Secretaries level in Islamabad. They had agreed to set up a separate working group on the core issue of Kashmir besides including various other groups to deal with outstanding issues between the two sides. Aziz said Pakistan has taken into confidence all kashmiris leaders across the Line of Control on Vajpayee's visit. Nawaz Sharif himself held a lengthy discussion with all political leaders of Azad Kashmir while Pakistan's High Commissioner in New Delhi, here before summit meeting between Nawaz and Vajpayee, specially flew to India a few days back to consult APHC leaders about the visit.

Pakistan and China to hold talks on strategic dimensions of their relations

ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (APP): Pakistan and China will hold wide- ranging talks here Saturday on strategic dimensions of their relations and discuss means to further cement their ,"time- tested," ties. General Chi Haotian, Vice Chairman of the State central Military Commission and Chinese Defence Minister will reach the Federal Capital on Friday night on a 5-day official visit to hold substantive talks between two friendly countries. Gen. Haotian has visited Pakistan twice, in 1989 and in 1994 as the Defence Minister. It will be his first visit as the Vice Chairman, State Central Military Commission, which is the highest Chinese state organ to deal with defence and military matters, signifying specially warm relations between the two armed forces. The visit of Chinese Defence Minister," is of great importance and significance," Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz told APP on Thursday when asked to offer his comments on Haotian visit. Sartaj Aziz said, his visit, was important," because of his high standing in Chinese hierarchy and strong Pak-China relations in the field of defence." During the visit, the Chinese Defence Minister will call on President Muhammad Rafiq Tarar and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The Chinese Defence Minister will also visit Karachi and lay floral wreath at the Mazar of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. During his stay in the provincial capital, he will also witness a Naval defence show.

Text of Briefing by FM(18:021999)

ISLAMABAD, Feb 19 (APP): I thought it would be appropriate that I should speak to you today on our perspective of Pakistan- India relations on the occasion of the forthcoming visit by Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee to Pakistan on February 20- 1998. Prime Minister Vajpayee will be making the inaugural journey of the New Delhi-Lahore bus service. In keeping with the established practice, he will be extended all the normal courtesies which are extended to heads of government or state who visit Pakistan. Prime Minister Vajpayee is undertaking the visit in response to our invitation. It will provide a very important opportunity for talks on all the outstanding issues between the two countries at the highest political level including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. As you all know, this will be the 7th meeting between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India since the resumption of the bilateral dialogue and the third between Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Vajpayee. The forthcoming meeting will be taking place at a defining moment in the history of South Asia. The nuclearisation of the region has given rise to new challenges as well as many opportunities for the two countries. It was with this objective in mind that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took the initiative to resume bilateral talks with India in order to resolve all disputes between the two countries, especially the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Following the resumption of the talks, the two Foreign Secretaries agreed to an eight point agenda topped by the issue of 'Peace and Security' and 'Jammu and Kashmir'. They also agreed that all the issues would be meaningfully addressed in an integrated manner. The two Prime Ministers agreed in their Joint Statement in New York on 23 September 1998 that an environment of durable peace and stability was in the supreme national interest of both the countries as well as the region. They further agreed that a solution of all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, was essential for the purpose. During the Indian Prime Minister's forthcoming visit, we expect that the two leaders should agree on concrete measures to build on the commitments contained in their Joint Statement.