Monday, July 16, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak, Indian scribes agree to disagree
T.R. Ramachandran

Tribune News Service

Agra, July 15
The anxiously awaited summit between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf began here today raising hopes of a new beginning in the bilateral relations between the two neighbours after a two-year hiatus in the wake of Pakistan’s misadventure in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Hopes were raised because of General Musharraf’s observations at the banquet hosted by President K.R. Narayanan last night in New Delhi that he wanted to follow the ideals of the late Mohammad Ali Jinnah — of forging mutually beneficial cooperative ties with India.

The summit was held in Jaypee Hotel where Mr Vajpayee is staying. The retreat being an informal affair, General Musharraf came dressed in a black pair of trousers and a long sleeved cream-coloured shirt minus the suits and sherwanis seen yesterday.

The Mughal Sheraton Hotel where the media centre is located was a beehive of activity with at least 400 mediapersons from India and Pakistan. The PIB and the Ministry of External Affairs requisitioned an auditorium which can easily seat more than 300 persons along with keeping enough space for the battery of TV networks.

The wait for the mediapersons was an endless one with the timing of the briefing being shifted every half hour from 2 p.m. onwards.

That enabled a free interaction with mediapersons from Pakistan who kept repeating that it was necessary for both sides to adopt a “give and take” policy for resolving the Kashmir problem, which has bedevilled the relations between the two countries for more than 50 years.

Needless to say, the Pakistani scribes found all the fault with India. This was hotly contested by their Indian counterparts who maintained that during all four wars that the two countries had fought since 1948, Pakistan had always been the aggressor. Obviously, there were serious differences of opinion, but at the end it was agreed to disagree.

Panther Party chief Bhim Singh in a memorandum to Gen Pervez Musharraf expressed condemnation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir of Pakistan for continuing to provide political, financial and armed support to Hurriyat leaders who did not represent even 6 per cent of the Muslims in the valley. He said out of J and K’s total area of 84,000 sq miles, 32,500 sq miles was under “illegal” occupation of Pakistan. Further, Pakistan had illegally sold out 4600 sq miles of Indian territory in the Korakoram region to China in 1963.

He said: “We the people of J and K call on you to immediately vacate all territories forthwith and respect the wishes of the people of PoK and Gilgit region. Emphasising that the people of J and K believed in secularism, peace and democracy, he stressed: “We call on you (General Musharraf) to forget about us and restore democracy in Pakistan which has been abducted by you.” He added in the memorandum that the people of J and K reaffirmed their faith “in our accession with India.”

Agra was more like a ghost town, thanks to the unprecedented police and security arrangements. All roads leading to Amar Vilas had been sealed hours before General Musharraf arrived here in the morning and shutters of shops pulled down. Mediapersons, too, had problems moving from place to place because of restrictions placed by the security personnel. General Musharraf was airlifted into the city after he landed at the air force station here this morning. Consequently, Mughal Sheraton became the meeting place for all and sundry connected with the press and the audio-visual media. 


Pak not sheltering Dawood’

Agra, July 15
The Pakistan Government today clarified that it had not given shelter to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who is wanted in India in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.

‘There is no person by the name of Dawood Ibrahim whose extradition was demanded by Home Minister L.K. Advani during his meeting with President Musharraf, living in Pakistan,’’ a senior Pakistan official accompanying General Musharraf said. In fact, President Musharraf also conveyed this to Mr Advani during the talks, he added.

The official said Dawood Ibrahim had never visited Pakistan. India had never sought extradition of Dawood Ibrahim from Pakistan directly or through international channels, he said.

Quoting Mr Tasleem Norani, Pakistan Home Secretary, the official said Pakistan “never gave shelter to any such person”. Dawood Ibrahim is wanted by India to face trial in several criminal cases. UNI

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