Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday said its decision to normalise trade ties with India reflects a desire to move away from the policies of the past 40 years but should not be taken as any dilution of its stand on "core issues" like Kashmir.
"We believe that the establishment of normal trade relations with India will be mutually beneficial for both countries. Significantly it also illustrates the priority that we attach to Pakistan's economic development," Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told a news conference at the Foreign Office.
Her comments came a day after the cabinet introduced a negative list regime for trade with India and for doing away with the negative list of 1,209 items by the end of the year.
"This decision, however, should in no way be construed as any dilution of our principled stance on the core issues that have bedevilled Pakistan-India relations for the last 60 years, and notably the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," she said in her opening remarks.
Pakistan, she said, will continue to "seek the peaceful resolution of all issues with India" and continue to insist on "meaningful progress in the dialogue process on all issues simultaneously".
Khar made it clear that the Pakistan government was willing to try new means to engage with India that amounted to a shift from the policies of the past four decades.
She pointed out that Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah had bequeathed to the people "normal trade relations" with India at the time of the country's creation in 1947, and that these arrangements had continued till 1965, when the two countries fought a war.
Since the earlier policies for engagement with India had not produced results despite been in place for 40 years, this new track should be given some time, she argued.