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Delhi, Obama to raise key issues

ISLAMABAD: President Obama will disappoint Pakistan if he fails to push India during his visit to resolve outstanding disputes with Pakistan, particularly the longstanding Kashmir issue.

abdul-basit pakistan newsForeign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit was asked several questions at his weekly briefing about President Obama’s visit to India starting from November 6, but the common dot in his replies was that Pakistan was expecting the US president to “help promote peace and stability in South Asia” a euphemism for resolution of Indo-Pak disputes among which Kashmir is central.

At one point, however, he said: “We hope the US president’s visit to India will contribute towards promoting peace and stability in South Asia. In case the US shows total indifference to issue central to peace in the region, then, we will obviously be concerned.”

President Obama’s visit to India is taking place against the backdrop of revived uprising in Occupied Kashmir, which has left about 120 dead during the past four months.

However, the repression in the Valley has escaped the watchful eyes of the West, which appears to be more concerned about ties with India.

There was, however, cautious optimism in Basit’s statement. He said: “We are confident that President Obama is conscious about that (the importance of resolution of Kashmir issue for the stability of the region).”

The best Pakistanis can expect, analysts said, was that Mr Obama in his private discussions with the Indian leadership nudges them to address the problem.

Mr Basit reminded the West of the need to resolve the dispute that threatened the peace of South Asia.

“We urge the international community, especially the major powers, to take strong notice of the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and contribute effectively, and I underline contribute effectively, towards resolution of the dispute. A just settlement of this long-standing dispute is also essential for lasting peace and stability in South Asia.”

In the broader context of growing Indo-US ties, Mr Basit emphasised that Pakistan would not be worried about them as long as they ensured a peaceful and stable region.

He cautioned against defining Pak-US relations from the prism of Indo-US ties.

“Our relations are independent of what is happening in US-India relations.”

Even though President Obama has ruled out supporting India’s bid for permanent membership of UN Security Council, Islamabad is still wary about efforts to get India included in elite nuclear clubs like Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, Wassennar Arrangement and Australia Group, which could give Delhi respectability and legitimacy in the nuclear world.

The spokesman said: “We strongly believe that there should be a level-laying field. You know Pakistan fully deserves to also benefit from civil nuclear cooperation with countries around the world.”

REPATRIATION OF PAKISTANIS: The spokesman said of the 7,000 Pakistani prisoners languishing in jails abroad, 932 had been repatriated—66 from Afghanistan, 800 from UAE, 46 from Greece and 20 from Yemen.

Separately, eight Pakistani prisoners in Thailand are being transferred to Pakistan under the Transfer of Offenders Agreement and another 20 will be repatriated from Sri Lanka soon.

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