Saturday, July 14, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Euphoria gives way to scepticism on summit eve
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The euphoria and hype connected with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s three-day visit to India beginning tomorrow is giving way to an element of scepticism because of the sabre rattling reaching a high pitch and Islamabad trying to force the agenda unilaterally.

General Musharraf’s rejection of the 1972 Shimla Agreement and the February 1999 Lahore Declaration throws up a new element of virtually erasing documents signed by democratically elected governments, especially in Pakistan.

“General Musharraf’s shrill observations virtually negate all that his predecessors have agreed to with India which holds dangerous portends for peace, stability and progress in South Asia,” observed Pakistan experts and former diplomats.

They wonder “what is the guarantee in case an agreement is reached at the Vajpayee-Musharraf summit that the new document will not be thrown overboard by the next regime in Pakistan because no leader is a permanent fixture in any country.”

“General Musharraf’s rejection of agreements which had been accepted by Pakistan all along as the bedrock for normalising relations between the two neighbours has vitiated the atmosphere ahead of the summit. It also raises serious questions about Islamabad’s genuineness in moving ahead on the strength of what has been agreed mutually in the past,” according to highly placed sources.

Impartial observers here view General’s Musharraf’s interview to a newspaper in the Gulf as seeking legitimacy in Pakistan’s efforts to alter the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Nevertheless, India is willing to pursue the path of trying to solve contentious issues through peaceful means rather than adopting a confrontationist approach. If that is not reciprocated, all the hype is bound to come crashing down.

New Delhi is still hoping that saner counsel will prevail in Pakistan of centering everything on Kashmir “in walking the high road to peace” as proposed by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. If that is the case, the picture ahead of improving Indo-Pak ties remains gloomy and fraught with dangerous consequences.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has once again underlined the need for both India and Pakistan to discuss all the problems debilitating the two countries in a broader framework by forgetting the mistrust and conflicts of the past.

Mr Vajpayee has stressed time and again to chart a new road map in Indo-Pak ties aimed at strengthening peace, development and bettering the lot of the people in both countries.

In an atmosphere lacking all outward bonhomie, New Delhi has studiously adopted a low key approach without compromising its stand on Jammu and Kashmir being an inalienable part of India.

The new turn of events has compelled New Delhi to tone down its effusiveness connected with General Musharraf’s tight intinerary in the national Capital, Agra and Ajmer. The reception party at Rashtrapati Bhavan where General Musharraf will be accorded a ceremonial welcome tomorrow morning has been pruned as also at the lunch being hosted by the Prime Minister.

Mr Vajpayee has made it clear that he is willing to have any number of sessions on a one-to-one basis with General Musharraf in a bid to break the impasse and overcome the bitterness of the past. 


Cong takes exception to remark
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The Congress today strongly disapproved General Pervez Musharraf’s reported statement that Simla and Lahore agreements were not relevant. “We maintain that Simla accord is the very basis of bilateral dialogue,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma asserted.

He said the accords were not meant to be disowned by successive regimes. “Change of government does not mean that accords, specially the Simla accord which has taken a very comprehensive view of Indo-Pakistan relations has lost its significance,” he said.

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