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Pak may seek withdrawal of Armed Forces Act from Kashmir

world Updated: Jun 17, 2010 20:46 IST

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Pakistan is expected to seek the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in Jammu and Kashmir and the release of political prisoners to improve the ground situation in Kashmir during the upcoming Foreign Secretary-level talks, diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

Senior Pakistani officials have broadly classified the issues to be raised during the meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries in Islamabad on June 24 into four categories.

These include outstanding issues like the Kashmir issue, humanitarian matters like the release of prisoners and fishermen, terrorism and trade and commerce, sources said.

The Pakistani side will press for strengthening of confidence-building measures in these areas so that the two sides can ultimately make headway in addressing issues that have bedevilled relations for many decades, they said.

There are indications that the Pakistani side could ask for the withdrawal of the AFSP Act in Jammu and Kashmir on the ground that the security forces have been involved in human rights violations.

Islamabad is also expected to seek the release of the release of political prisoners to improve the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir when Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir meets his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao.

The Foreign Secretaries will prepare the ground for a meeting between External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi here on July 15.

The sources also said there is a realisation at the highest levels of the Foreign Office of the need to lower tensions in the region while at the same time preventing any further deterioration of bilateral relations.

In this regard, the two sides are expected to discuss ways to improve cooperation in countering terrorism, the sources added.

There is a feeling in the Pakistani leadership that there is a need to upgrade the existing Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism, which was set up in 2006.

Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit today said Pakistan wants to firm up Confidence Building Measures at the upcoming foreign secretary level talks to bridge the trust defecit with India.

"Pakistan has always been promoting the cause of peace and stability in South Asia and we are keenly looking forward to our engagement with India with a view to promoting this cause in the interest of peace and prosperity in our region," Basit told a weekly briefing.

"We hope that this engagement should be a sustained and purposeful engagement (and it) should address all these issues so that we bridge this trust deficit," he said.