Zardari Hopes for Resumption of Peace Talks after Polls

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said he is hopeful of resumption of dialogue with India after the Lok Sabha elections the country faces over the next month. New Delhi ha earlier pulled out of bilateral talks with Islamabad after Pakistani elements were found involved in the gruesome 26/11 attack on the Indian commercial capital – Mumbai, last November.

In an interview to a TV news channel, Zardari lamented that his “bold peace overtures” had not met with a “positive response” from New Delhi, but admitted that the Mumbai terror attacks resulted in the stalling of peace talks.

He said he was optimistic of the talks resuming after general elections in India.

He noted the significant increase in the Indian defence budget. India hiked its defence spending by 24 per cent in the current fiscal.

Expressing Islamabad’s concerns over the perceived increase in Indian influence in Afghanistan, Zardari said a number of international intelligence agencies were involved in “spy games” in Kabul and there is a need for global consensus to end this practice.

He claimed that the US had assured Pakistan that it would not carry out drone attacks in the Balochistan province.

Zardari’s expression of interest for resumption of peace talks with New Delhi comes a day after US Special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, on a visit to New Delhi, termed India a ‘vital leader’ and said New Delhi’s full involvement was vital for settling Afghanistan.

“Regional challenges require regional solutions. Military power alone is powerless. Civil-military integration is very important for good governance and good leadership is absolutely vital. We cannot settle Afghanistan and many other world problems without India’s full involvement,” said envoy Holbrooke while addressing the media in New Delhi.

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