RD Nawaz calls for restraint on Kashmir border

Islamabad, Sep 18 (IANS) Calling tensions on the Kashmir border "a matter of concern", Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says Pakistan will respond to firing by the Indian military "with restraint and responsibility".

Sharif also told the Turkish media in Ankara that Pakistan was committed to "a serious, sustained and constructive engagement with India" that must include the contentious issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sharif's comments follow unending skirmishes between the Indian and Pakistani militaries along the Line of Control (LoC), which divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries.

Sharif, who took office in June, also said that Pakistanis had given him the mandate to improve relations with India.

"I have always given high priority to good relations with India for the sake of durable peace in the region," The Nation quoted Sharif as telling Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) network in Ankara.

"We are keen to have a comprehensive dialogue with India for the resolution of all issues including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," which is claimed by both countries.

Sharif reached Ankara Monday on a three-day official visit.

Sharif said he had started the peace process with India when then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore in 1999.

He said the two countries were then very close to finding a settlement to the Kashmir dispute.

Sharif said his government wanted stable ties with all countries, especially the neighbouring ones.

"For the effective pursuit of our socio-economic agenda, good relations with all our neighbours are essential and a priority for my government."

The prime minister also sought global suppor to battle terrorism in Pakistan.

"Our challenge is to root out this menace from our midst. Pakistan needs the cooperation and support of the international community and our neighbours for controlling funding, supply of arms and training to terror networks."

He said the US drone attacks in areas bordering Afghanistan not only violated Pakistan's sovereignty and international law but were counterproductive.

"Combating terrorism and extremism is one of the top priorities of my government. Terrorism and extremism are now a global menace.

"No country in the world is unaffected by it. Militancy and extremism pose a grave challenge to Pakistan's progress and development."

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