The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak PM lectures Delhi

New Delhi, Feb. 25: If Shaukat Aziz is the modern face of Pakistan, then there is a lot for the Indian leadership to worry about.

The suave, western educated Pakistan Prime Minister today urged India to show 'flexibility' and 'out-of-the-box' thinking to improve bilateral relations but made it clear that his government was not willing to accept responsibility for terrorist violence in Jammu and Kashmir.

'We have always said that Pakistan gives moral, diplomatic and political support to the people in the disputed area of Kashmir. We do not favour cross-border terrorism and have taken all necessary steps to contain them,' he said, delivering the keynote address at the India Today conclave through video-conference from Islamabad.

'However, if something happens in the Indian part of Kashmir, that is the reaction of the local people. This has nothing to do with what political and moral support we give.' Aziz argued that the Kashmir problem was not one of cross-border terrorism and that any attempt to link the disturbances with the global war on terror was 'dangerous'.

The Pakistan leader chided India for trying to get a seat in the UN Security Council. A country cannot become a 'great power' merely by getting into elite bodies, he held. Rather, greatness comes from its ability to successfully manage its neighbourhood, Aziz added.

The Pakistan Prime Minister's subject for the speech was: 'The future of South Asia.' He began by laying stress on the need for an 'alternative' approach to improving Indo-Pak relations and argued in favour of 'shedding the baggage of the past'.

But in his hour-long interaction, Aziz, who has been described as the 'modern face' of Pakistan, made it clear he was not willing to add even a line that can be seen as an attempt to digress from Islamabad's stated position. No progress can be expected in bilateral relations unless there is progress on Kashmir, he held.

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