Saturday, July 14, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak President arrives today
Be realistic, PM tells General
Tarun Basu

New Delhi, July 13
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today warned Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf that a dialogue between the two countries could succeed only “in a non-combative atmosphere” and urged him to take a more realistic approach ahead of the Sunday summit.

Responding to Musharraf’s insistence on discussing only the Kashmir issue and nothing else, Mr Vajpayee said it was important to recognise that a “single-point” agenda or a unidimensional approach” was not the recipe for success. India stood for a broad-based approach to the problems in India-Pakistan relations “if we are to move towards an agreement on them,” the Prime Minister said in an exclusive interview.

Mr Vajpayee, however, said no “dramatic results” should be expected from the Sunday summit at Agra. “We should try to gradually overcome the mistrust and suspicion that has built up over the years,” he stated.

Taking note of Musharraf’s progressively hardening stance, Mr Vajpayee stated that efforts to restore dialogue and have good-neighbourly relations with Pakistan “requires patient effort in a non-combative atmosphere devoid of unnecessary rhetoric and false accusations.”

“I do hope there will be a more realistic approach at our summit meeting, so that we can fulfil the hope generated among our peoples about the meeting,” Mr Vajpayee stated in the interview conducted at his official residence.

The Prime Minister was relaxed and jovial and betrayed no tension ahead of the marathon meeting that he was expecting to conduct with the Pakistani leader. He said he had set aside considerable time in Agra for detailed talks and was “willing to have as many rounds of talks as required to improve the atmosphere of our bilateral relations.”

He hoped Musharraf’s visit would reverse the “negative trend” in ties that resulted in an almost total breakdown of communication between the two countries. “We hope to find ways of putting conflict and discord behind us and to reach an understanding on matters that divide us,” Mr Vajpayee said.

To a question whether there were any feelers from Pakistan ahead of his surprise invitation to the Pakistani leader whom his government had so far shunned, Mr Vajpayee replied with a terse no.

He said there was an enormous groundswell of support among people in both countries for efforts to improve bilateral relations. He said the two countries can be on the right course as long as the two sides approach this task with sincerity and goodwill. “India is ready to stay on course, but one hand cannot clap,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr Vajpayee said it was a cause of satisfaction that all political parties had extended their full support for the summit illustrating the “strong national consensus in India on core foreign policy issues.”

“It is a source of great strength and sustenance for me to know that almost all shades of political opinion in our country not only support the talks with Pakistan, but also agree broadly on the line to be pursued at the talks,” Mr Vajpayee said.

On why India had refrained from criticising Musharraf elevating himself as president when even the USA had criticised him for it, Mr Vajpayee avoided comment. IANS


Pervez flays Simla Agreement
KSR Memon and IANS

Dubai, July 13
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has ruled out accepting the Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border and said he is willing to extend his trip to India by another 48 hours if New Delhi is serious about finding a solution to the Kashmir issue.

“LoC is the problem. What is the freedom struggle going on about? It is about the LoC. It is the problem not the solution. How can the problem be the solution,” General Musharraf, who will be leaving for India tomorrow for a three-day visit to hold talks with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, said in an interview to the Gulf News published today.

“Now who in Pakistan will ever accept this (LoC)? Nobody in Pakistan can accept this and expect to stay in power.... I think it will be very unrealistic for any Indian leader to expect any leader of Pakistan to go and accept the permanence of the LoC,” he said.

He, however, stressed that respecting the LoC was entirely a different matter.

He said the confidence building measures (CBMs) announced on the initiative of Mr Vajpayee meant nothing unless the five-decade-old Kashmir dispute was resolved by the two South Asian neighbours.

“Kashmir is the only confidence building measure,” he said. The perception in Pakistan was that India was trying to deflect attention from the “core” issue by announcing the CBMs, he said.

It was General Musharraf’s first public reaction to a string of Indian announcements like opening visa centres along the border, scholarships for Pakistanis to study in India and the non-arrest of Pakistani fishermen.

General Musharraf also hit out at the 1972 Simla Agreement and the 1999 Lahore Declaration, saying that neither had helped to resolve the dragging Kashmir dispute. “The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration failed because these ignored the core issue of Kashmir. “Till now Kashmir has been sidelined by India,” he said.

“I have studied every single agreement and treaty between India and

Pakistan. Nowhere does these mention that Kashmir is the issue. Why is that?” he asked. General Musharraf made it clear that he was going to discuss Kashmir with Mr Vajpayee.

“Nothing can be done at the cost of Kashmir. If Mr Vajpayee wants to discuss Kashmir and solve it, with all boldness I can sit there and in two days, I can say, let’s solve it,” he said.

General Musharraf said the Agra summit would be a success if India “accepted the centrality of the Kashmir dispute” and warned that any Pakistani Government that made a deal which left out Kashmir would come to grief.

About Kashmir, he said: “I have said the Kashmir is the only issue. Yes, I will be flexible on Kashmir, but I would like to correct this misperception, this misunderstanding. I have never said that flexibility will be shown on the issue to be discussed.”

Justifying the invitation to the Hurriyat for talks with him in New Delhi, General Musharraf said it had been sent because “we feel the Kashmiris, the Hurriyat Conference ought to be taken along.”

“Right from the beginning, I have said and I am of this view even now that there are three parties to the Kashmir dispute — the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Kashmiris and we believe the Kashmiris’ representative is the Hurriyat Conference,” he said.

He said he had always maintained that to begin with India and Pakistan should talk without “Kashmiri representatives but any time in the future they have to be included in the process of the dialogue if there is to be progress.”


PM briefs President

New Delhi, July 13
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today met President K.R. Narayanan to brief him on the government’s stand on the issues to come up at the Indo-Pakistan summit beginning tomorrow.

Mr Vajpayee, who drove to Rashtrapati Bhavan at 12 noon and was with Mr Narayanan for 45 minutes, is understood to have discussed the government’s position vis-a-vis the talks with President Pervez Musharraf.

The Prime Minister also explained the various confidence-building measures announced by the government to create a congenial atmosphere.


Mango diplomacy

New Delhi, July 13
Sugar-coated diplomacy was put to practice by Islamabad with Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf despatching two boxes each of the delicious Chausa variety of mangoes to President K.R. Narayanan, the Prime Minister, the External Affairs Minister and the Home Minister ahead of the Agra summit. TNS


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