The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Start talks and help us fight terror: Kasuri

New Delhi, May 19 (PTI): Close on the heels of Atal Bihari Vajpayee asking Pakistan to do more to halt cross-border terrorism, Islamabad today said it would be able to check any such activity “more effectively” if an “unconditional” dialogue starts with India.

On BBC World, Pakistan’s foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri dismissed suggestions the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was supporting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.

“ISI is not an independent entity. It is answerable to the government of Pakistan and there is no way it can have an independent agenda,” Kasuri said.

Pakistan, he said, was “trying” to stop cross-border activity, “but we will be far more effective in stopping it if a meaningful dialogue starts because then we (will be able to) tell the Kashmiris why are you blowing yourselves up...There will be a future for you. Pakistan and India will arrive at an arrangement in which your aspirations will be reflected”.

Welcoming the statesmanship shown by Prime Minister Vajpayee for his peace initiatives, Kasuri said Delhi should “accept the fact that the government of Pakistan is equally interested (in improving bilateral ties)”.

“India will not admit state terrorism and we will not admit the fact that we are facilitating the entry of people (into Kashmir). So, the only civilised way of conducting business under the circumstances is to have an unconditional dialogue,” he said.

On India’s insistence that cross-border terrorism should end before resuming bilateral talks and Pakistan’s insistence on starting a dialogue first, Kasuri said: “You see, I am a politician and, unfortunately, some times politicians have to address two constituencies — the international constituency and the domestic constituency.”

According to Kasuri, Delhi would “find in us, (a) people who are genuinely wedded to peace and a resolution of all issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, through a composite, sustained and tiered dialogue. That’s what we would want and that, I hope, is what he (Vajpayee) wants”.

On the ISI being accused of backing militant outfits in Kashmir, he said: “There is lot of propaganda about this. In ISI, basically 90 per cent of the officers are Pakistan army officers and they don’t stay for more than two-three years and if they want their career advancement, they have to follow orders.”

Asked why Pakistan has been unable to stop militants from crossing the border, Kasuri said the international community rightly wished to be “honest brokers” and they do not wish to alienate either country beyond a certain point.

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