Pakistan committed to good ties with India based on dignity: Jabbar

ISLAMABAD, Aug 2 (APP): Reaffirming Pakistan’s principled position on Kashmir issue, Information Minister Javed Jabbar Tuesday said the present Government was committed to building "policy of friendship and peace with dignity and honour with India." He made these remarks while addressing a seminar on,"South Asia: Prospects for Peace," organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). "Our government is committed to building policy of peace in South Asia including India," he said, adding it had manifested this commitment on several occasions. He referred to the address of the Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf to South Asia Media Conference held in Islamabad in which he called for immediate convening of summit meeting of South Asia Association of South Asia (SAARC) in a bid, "to dilute the intensity and harshness of bilateral relations." He said the Chief Executive also called for expansion of scope of charter of SAARC to specifically include political dialogue.

Moreover, he said, the Chief Executive had also called for early resumption of official dialogue between Pakistan and India. He said, "it is an inescapable reality that Pakistan-India relationship is the most complex relationship of any two nations on the planet." "The relationship between Pakistan and India go far beyond North and South Koreas’ relations where there is commonality of ethnicity and faith, or the relations between East and West Germanys. This has to be the single most difficult, intense, deep and multi-layered relationship." In view of the complex nature of the relationship between Pakistan and India, Javed Jabbar underlined the need for third party intervention to resolve their disputes. Referring to Kashmir issue, he said, "it cannot be termed a bilateral issue." "Kashmir is first and foremost a disputed territory fully recognized by the world body (United Nations) as a dispute between two sovereign states." "Reality cannot be brushed aside. However much time goes by. 50 years or another 50 years. You cannot rewrite or fabricate what has occurred in history," the Information Minister asserted.

He added: "You may wish to bypass Pakistan but Pakistan cannot be bypassed. The 130 million of Pakistan have to be taken seriously." Javed Jabbar said All Parties Hurriyet Conference must be recognized as the true representatives of Kashmiri people, "that represents political and conceptual approach to way forward." He quashed the oft-repeated Indian allegations that Pakistan was sending, "infiltrators," into held Kashmir. "How can we infiltrate people through 500,000 or 600,000 troops," he questioned. He said India must realize the "indigenousness of the roots" of the freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir. "Kashmir remains the core issue. Kashmir has become so deeply rooted into Pakistan psyche that it is not going to be possible to deal in any rationale way the Pakistan-India relationship unless it is addressed." He said even after the Kashmir issue is addressed successfully, "the complexity of the relationship between Pakistan and India will remain. This is not going to be easy relationship to manage. It is forever going to be full of hazards and pitfalls." He added: "such a situation poses challenges to us and we should be ready to deal with it." Javed Jabbar said Pakistan has accepted India as a reality. "We have no problem with accepting India. The difficulty in accepting has been on the other side and not on our side."

He cited the interview of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with a German journalist on March 11, 1948 stating, "the root of Pakistan-India relationship has to be the principle of equality. The government and people of India must recognize that Pakistan is a equal, sovereign state that has come to stay." The Information Minister said Pakistan was the only country in the region, "which has the capacity to effectively neutralize basic asymmetry in South Asia." "And it was well before the nuclear deterrent came into existence." "The people of Pakistan know that no force can effectively threaten its sovereignty and endurability as a state." The Information Minister said "with the nuclear deterrent, we can say that despite the fact we have a smaller coastline as compared to our neighbour, and other limitations of our geographic construct, we are in military terms, the only country in South Asia that can withstand effectively and with credibility, any threat to our security."

Javed Jabbar said Pakistan was not entirely India-centric. "It is true that India is the biggest threat to Pakistan’s security. Yet we are not obsessed by India." He substantiated his contention by referring to Pakistan’s imperishable bonds of friendship with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Middle Eastern and Gulf states and countries like China. He said the entire South Asian region had been affected by the animosity between Pakistan and India. "All issues dealing with South Asia are stalled on the anvil of irreconcilable positions taken by the two countries." Referring to internal situation in Pakistan, the Information Minister said, "democracy is alive and well in Pakistan except in one aspect that elected political institutions are currently not working." He said democracy is manifested in Pakistan in the shape of a thriving free and fair press and virtually unrestricted travel into and outside country. "Pakistan is a very open society. We never placed restrictions on satellite dish antennas." "Every thing can be said, even it is harshly critical of the government." In this context, he referred to the recently-held seminar in Badin on Kalabagh dam issue which was telecast on Pakistan Television. "Ours is a very democratic society which is attempting to reform its distorted political institutions."