The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Atal cooperation message to Pak

Islamabad, Aug. 10 (PTI): Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said violence and bloodshed cannot provide any enduring solution to differences between India and Pakistan and asserted that “cooperation”, and not “confrontation”, held the key to solving the contentious issues between the two nations.

“Violence and bloodshed cannot provide any solutions. We can live together only if we let each other live,” Vajpayee said in a statement read out on the first day of the two-day conference organised by South Asia Free Media Association attended by Indian parliamentarians and journalists here. “Cooperation rather than confrontation is the answer to our common problems of development and poverty alleviation.”

In the message, he also referred to the process of globalisation and emerging trends of regional and sub-regional economic cooperation and said India and Pakistan should heed the winds of change.

“We should not defy logic and distort reality to avoid mutually-beneficial cooperation. We cannot deny our people their right to peaceful and cooperative economic cooperation,” the Prime Minister said.

Among the Indian delegates are RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar, Lok Janshakti Party’s Ram Vilas Paswan, Rajya Sabha MP Ram Jethmalani and senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar.

In her message, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said her party was committed to cordial relations with Pakistan. “We have been in favour of a dialogue between the two countries for resolving all contentious issues. The Simla Agreement signed by Indira Gandhi and the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto… provides the framework within which the two countries can discuss all issues and build a durable friendly relationship,” she said.

The Congress welcomed Vajpayee’s initiative to resume talks with Pakistan. However, for a conducive atmosphere for meaningful talks or negotiations, it is essential that cross-border terrorism must cease, she said.

Among the Indians who spoke at the inaugural session were Margaret Alva, Laloo Prasad, Jethmalani, Moinul Hassan, Anadi Charan Sahu and Ramji Lal Suman, all of whom called for a dialogue on the basis of the Simla Agreement. They referred to infiltration by militants in Jammu and Kashmir, describing it as the major cause of Indo-Pak tension.

Laloo Prasad said everyone should play their role in tearing down the wall of hatred. The Speaker of Pakistan’s National Assembly, Chaudhry Amir Hussain, said: “The resolution of the Kashmir dispute is vital for peace in South Asia and we must strive to move in that direction.

“I hope that a sustained and structured dialogue between Pakistan and India will commence soon...”

Hussain said the 12th Saarc summit scheduled to be held here in January would hopefully provide new direction to the stalled process of regional cooperation. “We look forward to receiving Prime Minister Vajpayee in Pakistan on the occasion.”

Benazir Bhutto has called for inclusion of Kashmiris in the Indo-Pak dialogue. “We believe that although India and Pakistan are key protagonists in the Kashmir dispute, it is imperative to include the Kashmiri people in the consultative process,” Bhutto said in her message.

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