Regional peace linked to good ties with India: Nawaz

Lahore, May 31 (IANS) Peace and stability in the region is linked to good ties with India and the resumption of the sub-continental composite dialogue was the need of the times in the larger interest of both countries, former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Monday.

At a meeting with Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabarwal at his Raiwind House country villa, Sharif pointed out that despite facing the menace of terrorism, Pakistan has been playing a key role for the restoration of peace in the region.

He also emphasized that Pakistan ‘has been committed to purge the region from the menace of terrorism and extremism’, adding: ‘For restoration of peace and stability in the region, both India and Pakistan should resume the composite dialogue process to address their prevailing controversies on Kashmir, water and Sir Creek,’ Online news agency reported.

He also remarked that ‘it has been the responsibility of leadership from both countries to address all the long-standing controversial issues through dialogue’.

During the meeting, the Indian high commissioner hoped Sharif would play a positive role to redress differences between both the countries.

India had suspended the composite dialogue process after the 26/11 Mumbai terror carnage that New Delhi has blamed on Pakistani terrorists, one of whom, Ajmal Amir Kasab, has been sentenced to death by a Mumbai court.

India says its time to move beyond nomenclature and to address issues like the ‘trust deficit’ with Pakistan before the talks can move forward.

It is to this end that Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will be visiting Islamabad for talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Before that, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram will be visiting Islamabad June 26 for a meeting of the SAARC home ministers.

It was during Sharif’s tenure that the Kargil war had erupted in May 1999 after the Pakistani Army had occupied the heights in the Indian side of Jammu and Kashmir.

This was two months after then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had travelled to Lahore by the peace bus to improve ties with Pakistan.

Sharif later said then Pakistani Army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf had kept him out of the loop on the Kargil occupation.

Musharraf toppled Sharif in a bloodless coup in October 1999 and ruled for nine years.