Reinvent ties with India: Zardari

September 20th, 2008 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Sep 20 (IANS) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari Saturday asked the government to “reinvent” ties with India for a new era of friendly relations by moving to resolve all disputes, including that relating to Jammu and Kashmir.Addressing for the first time a joint sitting of both houses of parliament, Zardari, who was elected president earlier this month, said: “The relationship with India should be reinvented.”

“The main hurdle in friendly relations with India is the Kashmir issue that needs to be resolved,” said Zardari, who spoke in detail on the relationship with India.

On other neighbours, including China, the president spoke just one sentence.

According to Zardari, it was in the best interests of peace in the region that both countries resolve all their outstanding issues, including the critical one of Jammu and Kashmir.

“I will call upon the government to form a caucus of all political parties to discuss how to improve the relationship with India and to look into the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” said Zardari, who is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.

Zardari also said that the caucus should be representative and besides Kashmir, should also take up the Indus water dispute and suggest steps to resolve this issue too.

Zardari had announced in his maiden speech after taking oath as president on Sep 9 that the nation would soon hear “good news” on the Kashmir issue.

Quoting his wife and assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Zardari said the time had come for new ideas and reconciliation.

“We are all for peaceful relations with all our neighbours, particularly with India,” the new president said.

While sympathizing with the people of Kashmir, Zardari said: “We express our complete commitment with the just rights of our brothers in Kashmir.”

He said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government would start cross-LOC (Line of Control) trade between the two Kashmirs.

He also asked the government to liberalize the visa regime, saying visits by Hindus and Sikhs to their holy places in Pakistan should be facilitated.

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