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Pakistan Restores Travel Links With India as Thaw Continues

Prime minister also proposes resuming talks on all outstanding issues, including that of Kashmir.

May 07, 2003|Mubashir Zaidi | Special to The Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani government restored train, bus and air links with India on Tuesday, matching a peace initiative by New Delhi last week.

In announcing the Pakistani reciprocation, Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali proposed the immediate resumption of serious and substantive dialogue on all outstanding issues between the nuclear-armed rivals, including the disputed region of Kashmir.

"I believe all issues have to be addressed sincerely and constructively through sustained dialogue," he said. "India should put the acrimony to the back burner and discuss all issues, including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir."

Jamali offered to raise the number of envoys of both countries to the previous level of 51 and to revive sporting relations between the two cricket-mad nations.

He also announced the release of 40 Indian fishermen detained in Pakistan and the removal of trade restrictions.

The number of envoys had been cut to 41 last year when both countries expelled five diplomats and five other embassy staffers on vague charges of spying. India had also terminated the travel links last year, accusing Pakistan of committing cross-border terrorism.

Jamali also proposed several confidence-building measures on nuclear and other issues. "Possession of nuclear weapons by the two countries have put a heavy responsibility on them to seek nuclear and strategic stability in the region," he said. "It is therefore important for both India and Pakistan to engage in serious discussions for nuclear and strategic stability."

The prime minister said Pakistan supports the confidence-building measures outlined in the memorandum of understanding signed during Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Lahore, Pakistan, in February 1999, he added.

"We hope that a reconvened dialogue will enable us to conclude substantive and result-oriented measures for arms restraint and promotion of security in our region," he said.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and been enemies for most of the half a century since predominantly Muslim Pakistan was partitioned from predominantly Hindu India after independence from Britain in 1947. Both countries successfully tested nuclear bombs in 1998.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is scheduled to meet Thursday with Jamali and President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad. His itinerary includes Kabul and New Delhi.

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