ISLAMABAD: Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said Monday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during their meeting in Ufa, Russia that more information is required to conclude the Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi trial — the alleged mastermind 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
Speaking to media representatives in the federal capital, Sartaj said that the reference to 'additional information' is a recognition of the need for information which is required in order to expedite the trial.
Lakhvi was released from Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail in April this year, after a court ordered dismissal of detention orders issued against him by the Okara DCO on March 14.
India condemned Lakhvi's release deeming it an "insult" to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai attack. Lakhvi is among the seven persons charged with planning and helping carry out the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
At the time of the attacks, Lakhvi was believed to be the operational head of the banned Laskhar-i-Taiba (LT) that has been accused by India of carrying out the attacks in India's financial capital.
During the meeting with Modi, Sartaj said, Nawaz also sought information on the progress made on the Samjhota Express trial.
"July 10, 2015 was a very important day in the diplomatic history of Pakistan," said the adviser.
Aziz said SCO took a unanimous formal decision to admit Pakistan (and India) into the organisation.
"The process has been launched and after formalities are completed like ratification of SCO documents, Pakistan will become a full fledged member of the SCO."
He said the organisation can play an important role in shaping a conducive regional environment that would bring peace and prosperity to all SCO members.
Nawaz, Modi meeting cordial
Sartaz reiterated that the meeting between Nawaz and Modi, which was held upon the Indian premier's request, was cordial and both leaders shared a vision of having peaceful, neighbourly relations between Pakistan and India in order to create the necessary space in which both countries can focus on the economic welfare of their people.
He added that the July 10 meeting achieved one major objective — reducing tensions in order to create an environment for meaningful talks on all significant issues for both countries.
"Our country and our region have several challenges ranging from outstanding issues like Kashmir to terrorism to poverty and low human development," Sartaj said. "People are yearning for peace so that their governments can focus on a socio-economic agenda to improve the quality of life of millions of people living in South Asia."
The adviser reiterated that the informal discussion between the two leaders was not the formal start of a dialogue process. However, he said, the meeting served the purpose of achieving an understanding that tensions and hostility between the two countries need to be reduced in order to engage in dialogue pertaining to bilateral issues, including Kashmir.
Kashmir to be discussed among other outstanding issues
He said that the joint statement issued by the two leaders recognises the need to discuss all outstanding issues.
"We all know what those outstanding issues are," Sartaj said. "Kashmir of course tops the list of outstanding issues, but there are other important issues like Siachen, Sir Creek, water and interference in Pakistan."
He further said that Kashmiris have suffered for three generations.
"Their right to self determine their destiny has not been granted. Pakistan has stood by Kashmiris in their legitimate struggle. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif affirmed our principled position in clear and unequivocal terms during his annual speech at the UN General Assembly. We would continue to extend political, moral, and diplomatic support to our Kashmiri brethren."
The meeting between Modi and Nawaz also provided an opportunity to identify areas in which the two countries could promote more cooperation in order to reduce hostility, Aziz said.
"Peace and tranquility on the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary is in the interest of both countries," Sartaj said.
"Even though currently ceasefire is by and large being maintained, there have been occasions when this ceasefire was violated causing casualties and injuries to people inhabiting those areas."
Sartaj reiterated that both sides have also agreed to revive Track II dialogue to explore ways of resolving issues that have been lingering for a long period of time and need to be resolved in order to enhance peace in the region.
He further said that the National Security Advisers from both sides will meet in New Delhi and Islamabad to address acrimonious concerns regarding Indian's accusations of cross-border terrorism and Pakistan's concerns pertaining to hostile statements made by Indian ministers as well as India's support towards insurgency in Balochistan.
Nawaz's meetings with other world leaders
Aziz referred to PM Nawaz's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a development of historic proportion. The two leaders agreed to enhance bilateral relationship in all spheres, particularly in trade, investment and defence.
The adviser reiterated the outcome of PM Nawaz's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying that the premier provided a welcome opportunity to review the progress made in implementing the decisions taken during the Chinese president's landmark visit to Pakistan in April with regards to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other avenues of our multi-faceted cooperation.
He underscored that Pakistan and China are bonded by deep rooted ties of friendship and all weather strategic cooperative partnership.
The adviser said that PM Nawaz also met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to reaffirm mutual resolve to maintain the upward trajectory of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Both leaders expressed satisfaction on the meeting between the Afghan Taliban and their government —which was hosted by Pakistan — to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan, he added.
Sartaj said that Pakistan will continue to support the peace and reconciliation process "based on our conviction that a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in the best interest of our region".
Pakistan drops its prepared case against India following Ufa meeting
Pakistan has decided to put on hold the prepared case to be taken at United Nations against India for its alleged involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan.
"The decision whether to go to UN or not would be taken only after meeting between the national security advisers of the two countries," Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told the media during a briefing in Islamabad.
He said the date for the meeting between the two advisers is yet to be finalised but both countries are in touch through diplomatic channels in this regard.
Meanwhile Pakistan's permanent envoy to the UN Dr Maleeha Lodhi has left Islamabad for New York after getting guidelines and directives from the foreign ministry.
"Maleeha has been directed to make preparation for Pakistan’s participation in the UN General Assembly," Sartaj Aziz told DawnNews.