Wednesday, June 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Indo-Pak summit from July 14
Talks to centre round PoK: PM
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19
Pakistan’s Chief Executive Officer, Gen Pervez Musharraf, will pay an official three-day visit to India from July 14 to 16.

General Musharraf, who will be accompanied by his wife, will be given a ceremonial reception in the Capital in keeping with his status of Head of Government in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and General Musharraf will hold the summit in Agra. The two leaders will undertake a retreat to Agra where they will have discussions largely on a one-to-one basis. They will be joined later by their respective delegations. General Musharraf will fly to Agra after the ceremonial reception on July 14.

General Musharraf’s itinerary in India has been carefully drawn to ensure that he also visits Ajmer Sharif.

The two leaders will reaffirm their country’s stand on the protracted Kashmir issue and any conceivable forward movement in this regard is unlikely.

There is expectation that the one-to-one parleys between the two leaders may provide an institutional mechanism to discuss Kashmir and other contentious issues.

There is intense international pressure on Pakistan to have a dialogue with India and to put the composite dialogue - an initiative taken by India - back on the rails. On its part, India will like to move ahead in spite of Pakistan’s misadventure in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir in the hope that General Musharraf will continue to maintain restraint along the Line of Control.

Sources said the dates and venue for the summit were finalised at a meeting the Prime Minister had with his Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra and Foreign Secretary Chokila Iyer soon after his return from Mumbai.

Meanwhile, Pakistan High Commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi had a meeting with Congress President and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sonia Gandhi today and was understood to have discussed with her the visit of General Musharraf to India next month.

“It was a one-to-one meeting between the High Commissioner and Mrs Sonia Gandhi lasting about 20 minutes”, party spokesman Anand Sharma said. He, however, declined to divulge the details of the talks.

Following is the text of the official statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson tonight:

“The Pakistan Chief Executive, Gen Pervez Musharraf, and Begum Musharraf will visit India following the invitation from Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, from July 14 to July 16. Their stay will include a ceremonial welcome in Delhi, a retreat in Agra where discussions will be held between the two leaders, and a visit to Ajmer Sharif. Details of the visit are being worked out.”

In crucial remarks ahead of the Indo-Pak summit, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today asserted that Jammu and Kashmir was an “integral part” of India and this position would remain “unchanged” during his proposed talks with the Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, next month.

“Our stand is clear... Kashmir is an integral part of India. What we will be discussing will be one-third of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan (PoK) during the proposed talks”, Mr Vajpayee told a news conference.

Mr Vajpayee, who arrived at the conference venue in a wheelchair, said he would be convening an all-party meeting prior to his talks with General Musharraf.


Leaders expected to stick to stands
Protracted Kashmir problem
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 19
It appears certain that the summit between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan’s Chief Executive Gen Pervez Musharraf next month will be open-ended without a structured agenda.

Mr Vajpayee’s observations in Mumbai before returning to the Capital this evening has left no room for doubt that India and Pakistan will reaffirm and stick to their known stands on the protracted Kashmir tangle.

Despite General Musharraf calling for flexibility with regard to the “core issue of Kashmir”, the stage is being set for the two leaders to feel each other’s pulse and see how the prevailing atmosphere of distrust lends itself to striving for mutual confidence.

At the same time it is widely perceived in the BJP-led NDA government that General Musharraf is there to stay and has got himself entrenched in the body politic of Pakistan. The central leadership has since underlined the need to engage General Musharraf in an effort to reduce tension in South Asia.

After Pakistan’s misadventure in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi feels in the intervening period Pakistan has shown restraint along the Line of Control (LoC).

The expectation in the Vajpayee government is that Pakistan’s continued restraint along the LoC can pave the way for giving an impetus to commerce and trade between the two countries.

Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf will not gloss over the Kashmir issue.

The Prime Minister has emphasised that he will take up with General Musharraf the issue of PoK. It is clear there are no quickfix solutions to the Kashmir problem.

Therefore, the critical question is whether General Musharraf would like to deal with the intractable Kashmir issue by and by and move on to other aspects of the composite dialogue as a means of building mutual trust and confidence.

It is widely acknowledged that General Musharraf will have to take back something to appease his constituents and fundamentalist organisations in Pakistan. Giving a boost to bilateral trade and cooperating in other non-contentious matters can be a new beginning. India is keen to remove consular restrictions and reopen its consulate in Karachi.

The talk of General Musharraf being accompanied by a team of business leaders from Pakistan has enthused their counterparts in India.

The private corporate sector in this country believes bilateral trade between the two countries can add an entirely new dimension to the relations between the two countries.

There is cautious optimism that the overland Iran-India gas pipeline passing through Pakistan can be pursued as it will also be beneficial to Pakistan for setting up downstream units and creating employment.

India is no longer averse to an overland pipeline and believes that it is for the supplier Iran to make the gas available to this country as the buyer.

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