ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar Sunday struck a positive note on the future of Indo-Pak relations, saying the "trust deficit is zero or it has shrunk to a large extent" after the meeting between two Prime Ministers in Maldives. When Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh met in the Bhutanese capital of Thimpu in April 2010, they set the goals of reducing the lack of trust and improving the environment to make dialogue possible, Khar told a news conference at the Foreign Office.
Since the meeting of the premiers on the margins of the 17th SAARC Summit in the Maldives last week, the "trust deficit is zero or it has shrunk to a large extent" and the two countries now "need to start building on trust", she said.
A conducive environment will help both sides carry on with their dialogue to address festering disputes, she added.
"In Thimpu, the two Prime Ministers gave us a direction and we have done a reasonably good job. From the Thimpu spirit, it's now Addu hope," she said, referring to the resort in the Maldives where the SAARC meet was held.
"We have invested far too much in seeking out hostility towards each other and too little in seeking out peace with each other. I told my Indian counterpart that I'm competing with you in positivity," Khar said.
Asked about the Indian Prime Minister's remarks that he would visit Pakistan only if there is some movement in prosecuting Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks, Khar sought to link the 26/11 attacks to Islamabad's demand for action against those responsible for the bombing of the Samjhauta Express train in 2007.
"We have said that more needs to be done on all fronts. In the UN, we brought up the issue of mass graves (in Jammu and Kashmir) and in all my interviews in India, I mentioned Samjhauta," Khar said.
"We have told them that if you get exasperated on 26/11, how come we are not showing the same kind of impatience on Samjhauta, which is a much older case? We pointed out that our judicial processes are similar," she added.
Nearly 70 people, including 42 Pakistanis, were killed in the bombing of the Samjhauta Express.
Khar responded to a question on Indian Prime Minister's remarks that another Mumbai-like attack would reverse all the progress made by the two sides by saying that Singh had been "exceptionally positive" in the talks held in the Maldives.
"He called Gilani a man of peace. We have managed to create the space we need to pursue issues meaningfully. Some statements are also made for domestic consumption. What we heard was what he said to the entire media, both domestic and international," Khar said.
The "positive trajectory" of the meetings held in the Maldives is a "reason for hope", she said.
She made it clear that Pakistan is willing to "bend backwards" to improve ties with its neighbours.
"We don't want to remain hostage to our disputes. We want to resolve issues and don't want to be pulled backwards."
Replying to a journalist who felt Pakistan had not raised the Kashmir issue in bilateral meetings with India in the Maldives, Khar said Kashmir was "more important than a buzzword" but she hoped that in future the "centre stage of SAARC will not be an India-Pakistan bilateral dialogue".
"We hope that the India-Pakistan adversarial relationship will cease to exist. What we are can't be changed. We are neighbours and we are aspiring for good neighbourly relations. Till we resolve Kashmir, we won't be at a level where relations are not accident-prone," she said. (PTI)