US help not needed to talk to India: Pakistan envoy

April 20th, 2008 - 11:23 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) India and Pakistan do not need the intervention of the US to talk to each other, Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik said Sunday. The envoy made this remark in response to a speech by former American ambassador to India Robert Blackwill at the first International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)-Citi India Global Forum here.

Blackwill noted that while Pakistan’s return to democracy was encouraging, there was still uncertainty on what was going to happen in the period ahead.

He added that since Pakistan’s future would have a great impact on India and the US, “the two governments (India and the US) can talk in a very private way about that subject”.

“It is very sensitive, but it seems to me necessary,” added Blackwill.

This seems to have irked Malik, who intervened to say that India and Pakistan were quite capable of talking to each other without any third-party intervention.

“My advice is to let both India and Pakistan conduct bilateral relations. We are quite capable of talking to each other,” he said.

Malik added that the Composite Dialogue between the two neighbours was “on track” and Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee would visit Pakistan next month “to take it forward”.

Similarly, former Pakistan army chief and ambassador to the US General Jahangir Karamat asserted that any “India-Pakistan dialogue is far more important than any dialogue with Washington”.

Blackwill later clarified he was not proposing for the US to come between India and Pakistan.

“I will go further and say that in the gloomy, if not grim, international period in the last several years, one of the few bright lights is the bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan. I do not think America has a role to play in trying to improve it or manage it, or anything like that,” he said.

But, he asserted that India and the US should talk about the situation in Pakistan because of their large stakes in its future.

“I do not have the slightest hesitation in Pakistan talking to the Americans about India. So, making such a boundary is artificial and unhelpful,” he said.

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