Nawaz for more Pakistan-India intellectuals’ contacts

Lahore, Aug 31 ( Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has urged greater interaction between intellectuals of the two countries as the way forward in the stalled subcontinental dialogue process.

Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), made the observation during a meeting Monday with visiting Hurriyat leaders, including Yasin Malik, at his Raiwind estate on the outskirts of Lahore.

India should restart the dialogue process as it was in the interest of people of both the countries, Online news agency quoted Sharif as saying.

India had frozen the composite dialogue process in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that New Delhi has blamed on elements operating from Pakistan.

Ajaml Amir Kasab, the lone gunman captured alive during the Nov 26-29, 2008 mayhem and who is now being tried in a Mumbai court has admitted to being a Pakistani national and to being trained by the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) for the attacks that claimed the lives of over 170 people, including 26 foreigners.

Pakistan has arrested five LeT operatives, including its commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and communications specialist Zarrar Shah. Their in-camera trial began Saturday in a court in the garrison town of Rawalpindi adjacent to federal capital Islamabad.

However, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, who was placed under house arrest in December last year, was freed by the Lahore High Court in June citing lack of evidence. India has named Saeed as one of the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks. The Pakistani Supreme Court has indefinitely postponed a hearing on the government’s appeal against his release.

India has so far submitted five dossiers to on the involvement of Saeed and other Pakistani nationals in the Mumbai carnage.

Commenting on the Kashmir issue, Sharif said there could be no lasting peace in the region without resolving it.

The people of Kashmir and the state’s leadership should also be included in the dialogue process, the former prime minister added.

The right of self-determination should be given to the Kashmiri people so that they could decide on their future for themselves, Sharif maintained.

On the granting of autonomy to Gilgit-Baltistan, the former prime minister said Pakistan’s political parties had not been taken on board by the government on the issue.