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Pak favours talks over war with India: Gilani

Pakistan has always favoured dialogue over war and the "threat perception" regarding India necessitates talks to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said today.

world Updated: Feb 11, 2010 10:41 IST

Pakistan has always favoured dialogue over war and the "threat perception" regarding India necessitates talks to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said today.

"There is an intention (when) we say that there will be no war. But intentions can change anytime. There is a threat perception (regarding India), that's why we want dialogue," Gilani said in an interview with a TV news channel.

He was responding to a question about contradictions in statements made by President Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Zardari had said that there was no threat from India while Kayani had recently stated that the Pakistan Army is "India-centric".

Gilani further said that the armed forces of the two countries were "naturally" centred towards each other.

The premier appreciated "India's intention to resume talks", saying Pakistan has always favoured dialogue rather than war.

Reiterating Pakistan's stance for the resumption of dialogue between the two countries, Gilani said "politicians make bridges, not walls".

He noted that the Indian government headed by the Congress party had consented to resume the stalled peace process.

Asked about his stand on a possible "no first use" policy for Pakistan's nuclear arsenal as he now heads the National Command Authority, Gilani replied: "I will not comment."

Pakistan is a responsible state and will adhere to a policy of minimum nuclear deterrence, he said.

Gilani also recalled his meeting with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh at Sharm el-Sheikh in July last year and said Singh had invited him to visit Jaipur, which was his favourite city in India.

However, Gilani said it was the turn of Indian leaders to come to Pakistan and added he would formally invite Singh to visit the country when they meet again.

The premier spoke on a wide variety of subjects during the interview, including military appointments and the Supreme Court's judgement scrapping the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft amnesty that benefited Zardari and several federal ministers.

Asked about the appointment of a new army chief, Gilani said no decision has yet been taken as there was a lot of time before Kayani completes his tenure at the year's end.

Replying to a query about the possibility of Kayani being given an extension, he said, "I don't want to comment. It is much before time."

Gilani described Kayani as "highly professional" and "pro-democracy".

He said the army chief had good relations with the government.