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Kasab's sentence will have no effect on Indo-Pak talks: Qureshi

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that the death sentence handed down to Pakistani national Ajmal Kasab by an Indian court for his role in the Mumbai terror attacks will not affect the proposed talks between the two countries.

world Updated: May 08, 2010 14:42 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar

The death sentence handed down to Pakistani national Ajmal Kasab by an Indian court for his role in the Mumbai terror attacks will not affect the proposed talks between the Foreign Ministers of the two countries.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made this remarks on Friday while talking to state-run PTV.

Pakistan will give its response on the sentencing of Kasab after experts review the detailed judgement, he said.

The Indian court's decision will not affect forthcoming talks between the two Foreign Ministers, he said.

Qureshi added that he would soon fix the date for a meeting with his Indian counterpart SM Krishna. He described the Mumbai attacks as a "very tragic incident" that should not have happened.

Pakistan too is a victim of terrorism and those who lost their loved ones in terrorist assaults in the country can "feel the pain of people who suffered in the Mumbai attacks," he said.

A total of 166 people, including Indians and other nationals, were killed in the Mumbai carnage and that was why the whole world concentrated its attention on this incident, he said.

Qureshi acknowledged that there has been mistrust between Pakistan and India for the past six decades but said there is now a need to go forward to resolve outstanding issues.

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh agreed to resume the stalled peace process between their countries during a meeting on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Bhutan.

The premiers directed the Foreign Ministers to draw up measures to bridge the trust deficit between the two countries and to work out modalities for the resumption of dialogue.

Referring to the proposed resumption of dialogue with India, Qureshi said both countries have agreed to talk and he will contact his Indian counterpart for a meeting in this regard as soon as possible.

Replying to a question, he said India had expressed interest in talks and the attitude of Prime Minister Singh during his meeting with Gilani in Bhutan was "very positive and engaging".

Pakistan took the first step as there is no way forward except talks, and war is not an option as both countries are nuclear powers, he added.

Qureshi said he has always spoken about the need for dialogue and India has accepted Pakistan's position to resume talks.

"There is need for a lot of work to bridge the gap between the two countries as there are misperceptions on both sides," Qureshi said.

He described the differences with India on sharing river waters as a serious issue.

"We are not ignorant about this issue. I understand the importance of the water issue and it has a significant effect on inter-provincial relations," he said.

"We have the Indus Waters Treaty with India and when India violated the treaty, Pakistan pinpointed the violation on Wullar barrage and even on the Kishanganga project and told them that we are taking the issue for arbitration," he said.

However, he noted there is also wastage of water within Pakistan that needs to be tackled.

Referring to the arrest of Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad for a failed car bomb attack in New York, Qureshi said this was a "very serious issue" that was still being investigated.

There is a need to avoid discussion on this sensitive issue, he said.

"We are against terrorism in Pakistan or anywhere in the world and we discourage it. Pakistan and the US are allies in war against terror," he said.

Pakistan has conducted military operations against militants in its own interest and for the "survival of its way of life and not because of any pressure," he added.

"We do not want Talibanisation and are working to curb the elements of extremism," he said.

First Published: May 08, 2010 14:18 IST