Washington, Sep 27: Ahead of a meeting Sunday with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif said Islamabad stood ready to “re-engage with India in a substantive and purposeful dialogue.”
“I am looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to make a new beginning,” he said addressing the UN general assembly in New York around the same time as his counterpart was meeting President Barack Obama in Washington
Asserting that he had “an aspiration for regional peace and stability” Sharif said he had extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh “to engage with us to address all outstanding issues between our two countries” after receiving a message of goodwill from the latter on his election.
India and Pakistan “have wasted massive resources in an arms race” which could have been used for the economic well-being of their people,” he said.
“We still have that opportunity. Pakistan and India can prosper together; and the entire region would benefit from our cooperation,” Sharif said adding, “We stand ready to re-engage with India in a substantive and purposeful dialogue.”
Saying that he was looking forward to meeting Manmohan Singh “to make a new beginning” Sharif suggested that the two countries had a “solid basis to do that” building on the Lahore Accord signed in 1999
Noting that the accord “contained a road map for the resolution of our differences through peaceful negotiations,” Sharif said he was “committed to working for a peaceful and economically prosperous region.”
“This is what our people want and this is what I have long aspired for,” he said
However, in the same breath Sharif also raised the Kashmir issue saying the UN “must continue to remain attentive to the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and the full realization of the right to self-determination of its people.”
“The suffering of the people cannot be brushed under the carpet, because of power politics, he said in an annual ritual call to “the international community to give an opportunity to the Kashmiris to decide their future peacefully” in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)