Pakistan said today it is looking forward to a “constructive engagement” between President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at their upcoming meeting but there would be no compromise on the “core issue” of Kashmir or maintaining credible nuclear deterrence.
Islamabad also said the meeting in New Delhi on April 8 would contribute to intra-regional peace.
Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told a weekly news briefing that Pakistan is looking forward to a “constructive engagement between the two leaders” when Zardari travels to India on Sunday for a day-long private visit to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.
Before leaving for Ajmer,Zardari is scheduled to meet Singh over lunch in Delhi.
“We are of the view that the upcoming meeting between the President and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over lunch would contribute towards achieving the President’s vision to promote intra-regional peace and prosperity in this part of the world,” Basit said.
Both sides have not provided any details about the agenda for this meeting though Basit said the two leaders “would discuss all issues which continue to take priority in our bilateral relations”.
“These meetings at the summit level are always very helpful but that does not mean we have compromised on our principled positions on other issues,especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Basit said in response to questions about Zardari’s visit to India,the first by a Pakistani head of state since 2005.
The Kashmir dispute is a “core issue” between the two countries and Pakistan believes its “just and fair settlement is a sina qua non for establishing viable and lasting peace in South Asia,” he said.
“There is no question about changing our position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Basit added.
When asked about the induction of a nuclear submarine in the Indian Navy yesterday,the spokesman said: “Pakistan,under all circumstances,will maintain the credibility of its nuclear deterrence.”