Normal ties with India not likely soon: Pakistan

29 June 2016

Sounding sceptical about progress in normalisation of relations with India, Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz called for managing the situation better so that tensions don't grow.

"Their narrative has remained unchanged. They (India) do not want to give us credit [for our actions against terrorism] and keep that as an excuse for not starting dialogue," the Dawn quoted him as saying at a foreign policy briefing session held for journalists on Tuesday.

Aziz asserted that the problem was that New Delhi wanted normalisation on its terms, which was not acceptable for Islamabad.

Stating that his country will not back away from its principled stance on talks with India, he said that Pakistan has been insisting that talks should be held on a whole range of eight issues identified for bilateral dialogue, but India wants an exclusive focus on terrorism.

"If no major improvement takes place, we should manage the situation and our minimum objective should be to prevent tensions from growing," he said.

Aziz wasn't very hopeful about progress in the Afghan reconciliation process.

"Prospects of the [Afghan] peace process are not good. It would all now depend on the ground situation in Afghanistan," Aziz said.

He was of the view that the elimination of Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone attack last month sabotaged the peace dialogue.

"How can his successor now be asked to join the peace process," he asked, adding that there had been no signal from the Taliban as yet to suggest that they were preparing to move in this direction.

Aziz noted that there were divisions within Afghanistan about engaging a peace process with the Taliban and lack of clarity about how Kabul wanted to take the initiative forward.

He said that Islamabad could not take full responsibility for bringing the Taliban to the table, but could use 'whatsoever influence' it had to facilitate the process.

Regarding the repeated allegation by Kabul and Washington of not adequately acting against the Afghan Haqqani network's alleged sanctuaries in Pakistan, Aziz pressed that there was no difference of objectives and it was rather a matter of sequencing and timing.

Regarding the border issue with Afghanistan he said, 'Border management is an immediate need that is our priority. Moreover, the border is not an issue which we would like to negotiate, he emphasised.

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