Pakistan PM for friendship with India, armies exchange sweets

Islamabad, Jan 26 (IANS) Pakistan wants friendly ties with India and would like to resolve all issues through dialogue, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said Saturday.

Ashraf's conciliatory comments came as Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged sweets on the occasion of India's Republic Day, only weeks after clashing on the Jammu and Kashmir border.

In a message to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ashraf conveyed his "heartiest felicitation" on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan on the occasion of India's 64th Republic Day.

The Associated Press of Pakistan quoted him as reiterating his commitment to work with Manmohan Singh closely to develop friendly and cooperative relations and resolving all issues through dialogue.

Ashraf wished the people of India "peace, progress and prosperity".

In Jammu and Kashmir, the exchange of sweets between the two armies took place at Chakan-da-Bag along the Line of Control (LoC) as a goodwill gesture, continuing a tradition that mark such occasions, officials said in Jammu.

At Suchetgarh on the international border, about 40 km west of Jammu, the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers also exchanged sweets.

India-Pakistan relations took a hit after New Delhi accused Pakistani troops of brutally killing two Indian soldiers close to the LoC Dec 8 and beheading one of them. The chopped head was carried away.

Pakistan accused Indian troops of killing two Pakistani soldiers on two separate days.

In retaliation to the beheading and the mutilation of the other soldier, Manmohan Singh declared that there can be no business as usual with Pakistan.

The Indian and Pakistani armies have been traditionally greeting each other on the winding LoC, which divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries, ever since a ceasefire came into effect in 2003.