Track-II no substitute for official talks: Foreign Office
* Peacekeepers leave for Congo today
* Pakistan decides to send troops to Liberia
* Asks Indonesia to provide evidence for Jakarta blast charge
ISLAMABAD: Emphasising that track-II diplomacy could never substitute formal dialogue, Pakistan on Monday expressed the hope that the visiting Indian parliamentarians and journalists would influence New Delhi to resume official talks with Islamabad on all disputed issues.
“This is a good interaction of parliamentarians and journalists. But there is a consensus in Pakistan that the issue of Kashmir cannot be sidelined, Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said during a news conference. He said the Indian delegation’s visit would not bear fruit unless followed by a meaningful dialogue.
The spokesman appreciated Indian premier Atal Behari Vajpayee’s statement read out in the peace conference that bloodshed between the two countries must end. “The message and tone (of the message) is positive.” The spokesman asked India to reciprocate the confidence-building measures by Pakistan. “Now the onus is on India to stop the culture of torture in the IHK. Nothing is happening at the LoC. The violence and torture is on other side of the LoC.”
He said the two countries must hold direct talks. “When we cannot resolve our differences bilaterally, then the only option left is to call our friends for mediation.” He said President Pervez Musharraf will address the UN annual general assembly in New York on September 24 and meet several heads of state on the sidelines. However, the spokesman said no arrangements had been made for the president’s meeting with Vajpayee or US President George W Bush.
He said the issue of Israel’s recognition was raised for public debate in the country. “The issue was raised for a candid discourse. We are also consulting other Islamic countries before taking the decision.”
He said Pakistan has ‘in principle’ decided to send its troops to Liberia under the UN umbrella. Also Monday, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Pakistan will start deploying 1,000 peacekeepers in Congo from today (Tuesday).