Indo-Pak accord on four trade routes
The News, September 26, 2008
Singh assures Zardari of respecting Indus Waters Treaty
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
NEW YORK: Pakistan and India have agreed to resume trade through land routes and decided to open four points for this purpose, including two along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, while two would be on the international borders.
The agreement, without any tangible progress towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, is perceived to be a departure from Pakistan's historic position on Kashmir followed by the successive governments.
Meanwhile, India assured Pakistan that it would stand by the Indus Waters Treaty and Pakistan would get its share of river waters in accordance with the treaty. President Asif Ali Zardari raised the issue of water share in his maiden meeting on Wednesday evening with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in his hotel in New York.
A joint statement was issued after the meeting and the two leaders also had a brief interaction with the media. The leaders of Pakistan and India, vowing to work for an early and full normalisation of relations, have agreed to open four trade routes as part of the efforts to strengthen trade, commerce and bilateral ties.
The joint statement reads: "Both the leaders agreed that the forces that had tried to derail the peace process must be defeated. "This would allow the continuation and deepening of a constructive dialogue for the peaceful resolution and satisfactory settlement of all the bilateral issues, including Jammu and Kashmir," added the statement issued after the hour-long session.
"They agreed that violence, hostility and terrorism had no place in the vision they shared regarding the bilateral relations, and must be visibly and verifiably prevented," it said, adding: "Severe action would be taken against elements involved in terrorist acts," the statement said.
The two leaders welcomed the "several positive outcomes of the four rounds of the composite dialogue, which had brought their people, businesses and institutions closer." They agreed on the opening of the Wagah-Attari road link and Khokrapar-Munabao rail route for all permissible items of trade. They also decided to commence cross-LoC trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakot roads on October 21, and to discuss modalities for the opening of the Skardu-Kargil route soon. The two countries have just concluded talks in New Delhi on the subject of opening of trade routes across the LoC.
The meeting between the two leaders called for consolidating the gains made through sustained efforts to resolve all outstanding issues. "They agreed to work for an early and full normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan, on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and non-interference," the two-page statement said.
Pakistan and India also agreed that their foreign secretaries would schedule meetings of the fifth round of the composite dialogue in the next three months to focus on "deliverables and concrete achievements".
They also agreed to stabilise the ceasefire and that the director-generals military operations and sector commanders would stay in regular contact.The two sides also agreed to hold a special meeting of the Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism in October to address mutual concerns, including the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Prime Minister Singh congratulated President Zardari on his election and the victory of democracy in Pakistan. He expressed the hope that this would pave the way for a profound transformation of the bilateral relationship, so that India and Pakistan might work together on their shared objectives of peace, prosperity and security.
The two leaders also agreed on expansion of people-to-people contacts, trade, commerce and economic cooperation as it provided an effective platform to develop and strengthen bilateral relations.
They evolved a consensus to continue interaction between the planning commissions of both the countries to develop mutually beneficial cooperation, including the energy sector.
Indian diplomatic sources later told this scribe that India was committed to implementing the Indus Waters Treaty that allowed equitable distribution of water, after President Asif Ali Zardari sought an early action on the issue of reduction of water flow in the River Chenab at his meeting with the Indian prime minister.
Dr Manmohan Singh assured President Zardari that the Indus Waters Treaty would be implemented in letter and spirit. It is the obligation of the government of India and they will invite the Indus waters commissioner soon after Eid to look at the situation."
President Zardari said he was working for poverty alleviation and economic development in South Asia.Manmohan said all the outstanding issues could be resolved through peaceful dialogue.
"We discussed all aspects of our relations - trade, Jammu and Kashmir - we are not afraid of the word K (Kashmir)." President Zardari while talking to the media after the meeting said that Dr Singh is the architect of modern India. He has assured us about water, which is our main concern. "We are thankful for his assurances in this regard"
Dr Singh said that all outstanding issues could be resolved through peaceful dialogue. "A strong prosperous, peaceful, democratic Pakistan is in our interest," he concluded.
Zardari calls Manmohan 'father of modern India' - NDTV
Water issue to be resolved: Singh: Indus treaty to provide guidance - Dawn
India, Pakistan leaders agree to kickstart peace talks - AFP