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Pakistan wants no strings attached to Kashmir talks

* FO says dialogue and pre-conditions can’t go side by side *Tells India to take to task Samjhota incident terrorists

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday rejected any pre-conditions for dialogue with India over Kashmir and urged the neighbouring country to take to task the terrorists behind the Samjhota Express incident.
“You cannot have dialogue and at the same time impose pre-conditions,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told a weekly press briefing on Thursday. “I am not saying that we want to hold up progress on one because of the other. But we do expect that Pakistanis who have been victims of terrorists would also get justice.” She was responding to a query regarding Indian defence minister’s comments which linked normalisation of Pak-India relations with continuity of dialogue process and an early conclusion of Mumbai attacks trial and his expressed desire to settle all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including that of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Any articulation of policy that India wants to settle all issues, including the outstanding issue of Jammu and Kashmir through dialogue resonates with us as it has been our policy. Pakistan’s policy, all along, has been that all outstanding disputes, particularly the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, should be resolved through dialogue. But you cannot have dialogue and at the same time impose pre-conditions.” Despite looming hostility amid reported exchange of fire at the Line of Control (LoC), the backdoor diplomacy between India and Pakistan seems to be on, with the FO spokesperson impliedly confirming an Indian journalist’s meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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