Islamabad: Pakistan's major political parties have pledged to work for better relations with India and to resolve outstanding issues like the Kashmir dispute through dialogue while pushing economic ties.

The PML-N, widely tipped to emerge as the single largest party in the May 11 general election, in its manifesto promised to carry out a comprehensive review of Pakistan's security and foreign policies as the country "is at war within while isolated abroad".
It sees the normalization of relations with neighbours like India as a key element of this new strategy. The party's manifesto says, “It will pursue a policy of normalization with countries with which we have differences, so as to seek their resolution by means of peaceful negotiations, with the objective of establishing cordial and cooperative ties with all countries, especially those that are our neighbours".
The PML-N said it would make "special efforts" to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with relevant UN resolutions and the 1999 Lahore Accord and in "consonance with the aspirations of the people" of Kashmir "for their inherent right of self-determination".
The party led by former premier Nawaz Sharif has also tacitly acknowledged India's concerns about terrorism by stating in its manifesto that "non-state actors" were using Pakistan "as a sanctuary to pursue their own agendas". The PML-N is the only political party to bring up the issue of "water management" in the context of relations with neighbouring countries in its manifesto. The proper use of river waters will be accorded "urgency and importance", it said.

In recent years, differences over sharing river waters have emerged as a key irritant between India and Pakistan. Islamabad has opposed several water projects being built by New Delhi in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming that they violate the Indus Waters Treaty.
The Pakistan People's Party and its erstwhile allies in the outgoing coalition – the Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement – have pledged to continue with the work done in the past five years to build better relations with India.
In a section of its manifesto titled 'Engaging with the world', the PPP listed the normalization of trade relations with India among some of the important achievements of its government over the last five years in integrating regional trade and commerce."The pursuit of an honest and sincere dialogue for the resolution of all outstanding issues with India, including the core issue of Kashmir, the normalization of trade relations and the easing of travel restrictions, are in line with the (PPP's) commitment to regional peace," the manifesto said.     

The PPP said it supports the rights of the Kashmiri people and had pursued a dialogue process with India on all key issues, including Kashmir. "We will not allow lack of progress on one agenda to impede progress on the others," it said.
"Without prejudice to UN Security Council resolutions, we support open and safe borders at the Line of Control to socially unite the Kashmiri people. We note that India and China have a border dispute and yet enjoy tension-free relations," the manifesto said.
"Consistent with our belief that continued diplomatic, economic and security engagement with all our neighbours is crucial for building confidence and stability in a region facing multiple challenges, we will persist in spearheading a roadmap and a diplomatic surge for enhanced relations…with Afghanistan, India, Iran and China," it added.


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