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Thursday, October 22, 1998
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India rejects Pak proposal
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Oct 21 — India today rejected Pakistan’s proposal of a non-aggression pact, saying it was not acceptable with a pre-condition of the successful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue.

The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Mr Brajesh Mishra, told reporters here that Pakistan’s offer made in Islamabad at the recently concluded Foreign Secretary-level talks was not acceptable as it had been linked to the successful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

A caveat attached to the pact negated the very concept behind such an offer, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said in reply to a question.

The offer was not new as it was made by Islamabad in the eighties and was reiterated by the Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif, during his address to the United Nations General Assembly last year. A no-war pact was offered to Pakistan in 1949 by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to his counterpart Liaquat Ali Khan.

However, the offer made at the UNGA was not made to India then as it was essentially meant for international attention. Now the offer had been reintroduced with a caveat at the recently concluded talks, sources said.

Pakistan had been making consistent efforts to go back on the Simla Agreement which clearly ruled out the use of force for resolving any dispute. In a sense, the Agreement was nothing but a non-aggression pact, officials pointed out.

Pakistan’s proposals on confidence building measures included the setting up of a nuclear risk reduction centre, a bilateral agreement on banning nuclear tests, acceptance of a minimum nuclear deterrent, prevention of the violation of the air space and territorial waters and the revival of the pre-Simla Agreement on border ground rules.

India’s proposals included an agreement to prevent a nuclear conflict through accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons, assurance that flight tests would not be in each other’s direction, cessation of firing incidents on the Line of Control and asking Pakistan to stop aiding and abetting terrorist activities in India.

The fact that the two sides had agreed to continue their talks should be viewed as a positive development, the officials said, adding that "neither side had expected any dramatic breakthrough and none came through". "We did not have any unrealistic expectations", they said adding that all bilateral and international agreements of such nature and complexities had been arrived through a long and time-consuming path of negotiations.

The focus would now be on the second phase of official-level talks which would commence from November 5 to 13 in Delhi. The two sides would discuss the remaining six issues including Siachen, the Sir Creek maritime boundary dispute, the Tulbul navigation project, terrorism and drug trafficking and economic and commercial cooperation.

The next round of Foreign Secretary-level talks on the CBMs and Jammu and Kashmir would be held in Delhi in the first half of February next year. The time between now and February would be utilised to examine the areas where there was a convergence of views, sources said.back

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