| Jamali delivering the speech in Islamabad on Sunday. (AFP)
Islamabad, Nov. 23 (PTI): Pakistan Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali tonight announced a ceasefire on the Line of Control from Id and expressed hope that India would respond positively.
In a televised address to Pakistan marking the completion of his first year in office, Jamali said the Pakistani army has already been ordered to stop firing from Id, expected to be on November 26.
“Our troops deployed along the Line of Control have been ordered to display complete ceasefire from the day of Id. I expect India will make a positive response to our announcement because without this, our step will be incomplete,” he said.
Jamali also responded positively to a number of peace initiatives unveiled by India as part of a 12-point package.
The Pakistan Prime Minister’s announcement came less than two months before a Saarc summit in Islamabad.
In August, President Pervez Musharraf had proposed a truce on the LoC but Delhi had dismissed the offer as meaningless, saying it was Pakistan which kept up the firing to give cover to infiltrators.
Hoping that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would attend the Saarc summit in January, Jamali said the coming event would “open a new chapter” in regional cooperation.
“Pakistan is interested to live in peace with India and was waiting for the participation of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the summit,” Jamali said.
He said Pakistan was ready for talks on starting a ferry service proposed by India between Karachi and Mumbai as well as a bus service between Kokharapar in Sindh in Pakistan and Munabao in Rajasthan.
On both issues, Pakistan had earlier said it would hold talks only after India begins a dialogue on Kashmir and other issues. Jamali’s announcements today did not carry that rider.
Jamali also accepted an Indian suggestion to open more visa camps to facilitate people-to-people contact between the two countries. Both Pakistani and Indian high commissions, after mutual agreement, should look into the possibilities of opening the visa camps, he added.
While Pakistan earlier insisted requirement of UN documents for passengers to use a Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, Jamali tonight said his country was ready to hold talks with India on this proposal as well as others.
Jamali expressed Pakistan’s willingness to start the bus service on the assumption that Jammu and Kashmir remained a “disputed” territory in accordance with the UN’s resolutions and the LoC was a temporary line. The issue of UN documents was conspicuously absent in today’s speech by Jamali.
Jamali also proposed a bus service between Lahore and Amritsar and said additional buses on the Lahore-Delhi route could be discussed. He invited India to initiate talks on the modalities for the bus service and offered to host a meeting.
He also proposed that the home ministries of Pakistan and India find ways to resolve the problems of prisoners jailed in each other’s countries, specially those who have served term but could not be sent back to their countries.
The Prime Minister said it would be a welcome step if India releases such prisoners before Id so that they could celebrate the festival in their country.