'No group should be allowed to derail Pak-India peace process'

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No group should be allowed to derail Pak-India peace process
Affairs Sartaj Aziz looks on as British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond addresses the joint Press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday.- AFP

Islamabad - UK says Kashmir issue must not be a precondition for starting dialogue

By Afzal Khan

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Published: Tue 8 Mar 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Wed 9 Mar 2016, 8:45 AM

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday urged Pakistan and India not to allow non-state actors and other pressure groups to derail the peace process.
"I urge both Pakistan and India not to allow non-state actors and other pressure groups to derail the peace process. Settling the Kashmir issue should not be a precondition for starting the dialogue process," Hammond said while addressing a joint Press conference with Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad after bilateral talks.
Hammond also advised Pakistan to speed up the investigation into January 2 terror assault on India's Pathankot air base in northern Punjab state which India has blamed on Pakistan-based militants. He appreciated Pakistan's commitment to vigorously pursue Pathankot attack investigations and hoped that the country will make progress in the investigation.
The British foreign secretary lauded Islamabad's role in the fight against terrorism and said Britain will continue its support to Pakistan in war on terror. He said Pakistan is the victim of terrorism and resolved to work with Pakistan to take on the threats it faces.
Sartaj assured Hammond that a joint investigation team is in the process to complete its probe into the Pathankot attack. "The team will visit India in the next few days and hopefully then a meeting between the foreign secretaries of the two countries will take place. The Indian High Commissioner himself stated that foreign secretaries' meeting is not linked to the Pathankot investigation," the premier's senior aide said. Responding to a question on the Afghan reconciliation process, Sartaj said Islamabad is hopeful that the Afghan peace process will start in coming days. "Under the concept of shared responsibility Pakistan, China and the US have to persuade the Taleban to the negotiations," he added.
Sartaj also confirmed that the government shared intelligence with New Delhi about possible terror attacks in India. "Sharing of intelligence among various nations of the world is a routine practice and this happens around the world. However, this time it was somehow leaked to the media. But this showed Pakistan's commitment to fight terrorism," Sartaj said.
Earlier, Philip Hammond met Sartaj Aziz here during his day-long visit to Pakistan.
Sartaj said that the two sides reviewed their relations during Hammond's visit.
"We hope this review would help to further strengthen our ties with the UK," he said.
Aziz said that the two sides have five strands of cooperation: trade and business relations, financial and development cooperation, education and health, consultations on defence and security and cultural cooperation under the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue.
He said both countries in 2014 prepared roadmaps and targets for each strand of cooperation to provide guidance to the concerned ministries and organisations for implementation.
"Today we reviewed the progress on various aspects of our cooperation including political, trade and investment, education, health, defence. We are grateful for Britain's assistance and support in many of these areas but specially in the education and health sectors," Sartaj said.
news@khaleejtimes.com

Pak commitment to probe India attack praised > Pakistan's commitment to vigorously pursue Pathankot attack probe praised.
> The probe team will visit India in the next few days.
> Foreign secretaries' meeting is not linked to the Pathankot investigation.
> Islamabad is hopeful that the Afghan peace process will start in coming days.
> Islamabad shared intelligence with New Delhi about possible terror attacks in India.
> Hammond's visit will further strengthen Pakistan-UK ties.
> Pakistan is grateful to Britain for assistance and support in many areas but specially in the education and health sectors.


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