Ball In Pak Court: Straw

New Delhi, July 19: | Updated: Jul 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
Visiting British foreign secretary Jack Straw has asserted that an end to cross-border infiltration is the key to find a peaceful solution to the Indo-Pak row, including the Kashmir issue.

British foreign secretary Jack Straw with Ranbaxy chief DS Brar (L) and former CII chief Sanjeev Goenka (R) in New Delhi on Friday
Mr Straw said here on Friday that though tension between the two countries had decreased the situation is still difficult. A number of steps are needed to be taken and an end to infiltration is more important, he said.

Asked what message he will be carrying to Islamabad from New Delhi, he replied, I understand the concerns of India. It is not a question of carrying a message but a process of consultations.

He said after his last visit to the sub-continent he was happy that some steps had been taken by New Delhi to de-escalate the situation along the borders. The solution to the problem lies in diplomatic discussion and further dialogue.

In response to New Delhis demand to declare Pakistan as a terrorist state, he said, we dont have any laws under which we can declare a country as a terrorist state. Britain has definite laws to declare individual groups as terrorist outfits. This has been done in the case of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and HuM, he added.

Responding to a query of arms sales to the region, he said, whatever decisions I have taken about the sales have been consistent and the criteria for the arms deals are different. There are two set of laws, one by the EU and the second is national laws.

Mr Straw said London has agreed to provide funding of 600,000 pounds (Rs 4.4 crore) for collaboration between the scientists of the two countries. He said India is possessed with world class expertise which included IT.

The visiting foreign secretary asked India to further improve its human right record in J&K and create a conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections to enable the people of the terrorist-infested state express their will without any fear. He said India had several safeguards against human rights abuse, but it should take action against those responsible for abuse of these rights. There has been a reduction in the Indo-Pak tension, he said, adding the situation along the borders still remains difficult. The level of infiltration has come down. India has already taken some de-escalation measures, he said.

On cooperation in the aviation sector and opening more slots at Heathrow, he said discussions on co-operation in the aviation sector was also discussed. There is more demand for direct travel between India and Britain, he added.

Briefing the press on the talks Mr Straw had with his Indian counterpart and national security advisor Brajesh Mishra here, an external affairs ministry spokesperson said, our disquiet, our unease, our unhappiness that Pakistan has failed to deliver on the promises it has made was conveyed very clearly and unambiguously to him (Mr Straw).