Tuesday, July 17, 2001,
 Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India blames Pakistan for 'unifocal'
 approach on Kashmir

AGRA, July 17
Squarely blaming Pakistan’s 'unifoca'l approach on Kashmir for the deadlock in the Vajpayee-Musharraf summit, India today asserted it was not a failure and made it clear efforts would continue to engage Pakistan for carrying forward the dialogue process.

“To say that everything has collapsed in Indo-Pak relations is wrong. I am not treating it as the end of the exercise. The caravan of peace will continue its journey and on some auspicious day, it (another meeting between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf) will be picked up,” External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh told a crowded Press conference.

Musharraf’s invitation to Vajpayee to visit Pakistan, which has been accepted, “is in place”, he said. Dates would be decided according to mutual convenience. He also did not rule out a meeting between the two leaders during the UN General Assembly session in New York in September, saying “it will be determined in due time”.

Making it clear that he was not willing to engage in open sparring with either Pakistan President or his spokesmen on the reasons for the deadlock, he said “it will not be a breach of confidentiality to clarify that this (impasse) was on account of the difficulty in reconciling basic differences in bilateral relations.

In an apparent reference to Islamabad’s insistence on centrality of Kashmir, he said “India is convinced that narrow, segmented or 'unifocal' approaches will simply not work”.

He said the relationship has to be “broad based”. New Delhi would continue to address issues of cross-border terrorism and violence in Kashmir which were not acceptable to it. 

Singh strongly refuted the suggestion of differences among Ministers in the Indian delegation saying all of them worked wholeheartedly and unitedly.

He also maintained that the confidence building measures announced prior to the visit of Musharraf would be “fully implemented” on India’s part on the conviction that they would make an important contribution to the relations.

Relations between India and Pakistan should not be defined by differences and “we have to move beyond and transcend these differences for the sake of welfare of peoples of the two countries”.

Stating that India recognises Kashmir as an “issue” and that it was committed to addressing it, he said “conceptual differences” persisted. “We do not recognise it as the only issue or the core issue”.

On Pakistan’s insistence that unless Kashmir was resolved there could be no improvement in bilateral relations, the Minister said: “We don’t believe that bilateral relations ought to be or can be held hostage by any single issue”.

Giving details about the summit, he said negotiations for an agreed text of a document were “seriously pursued” when India did not shy away from any issue.

“In keeping with the confidentiality, which is necessary for the negotiations, and the maintenance of which is essential for the future of bilateral relations themselves, it would not be proper to go into details.

“However, it needs assertion that, during the negotiating process, India fully respected all established international norms. As a mature and responsible democracy, we negotiate to improve bilateral relations with our neighbours not to indulge in public relations”. 

Virtually disapproving of the manner in which Musharraf went public with his views during an interaction with senior Indian Editors yesterday, Singh said this was not the way negotiations are conducted between high dignitaries.

The Indian side did facilitate such an interaction on the understanding that it would be an off-the-record briefing; he said adding serious negotiations between heads of government are not held through the media.

He also dismissed a suggestion that Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke out of turn to the media on Sunday which was taken exception to by the Pakistan President. He said as a Minister she spoke with authority of the government and her remarks had no bearing on the summit.

Singh also rejected a Pakistani allegation that Musharraf was prevented from talking to media after his farewell call on Prime Minister late last night and said “pure security considerations” made it impractical.

To a question whether in the wake of the deadlock government would consider bringing in a third party for negotiations, he said “two parties are more than enough. Three is a crowd”. 

Maintaining that India and Pakistan were enough to negotiate bilateral problems, he said “there is no question of a third party involvement”. 



Musharraf “hurt, disappointed” at summit failure

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf was “hurt and disappointed” that an agreement on Kashmir withered in the 11th hour of a peace summit with neighbour India, a senior official said today.

“The President did not hide his feelings,” Pakistan’s Information Minister Anwar Mahmood said in an interview.

“He was very, very disappointed and hurt that he and (Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayee had agreed to everything, they had settled on an agreement and six hours later it was in tatters,” he said. “How can this happen?”

In the end the summit agreement collapsed over wording, said Mahmood.

Musharraf’s failure to return home with an agreement is seen as a major setback to his attempts to try to wean Kashmiri guerrillas off of war and into diplomacy as a means to settle their dispute.

“This is unfortunate, particularly because for the first time there was a sentiment from within the political leadership of Kashmir, but also from other elements in Kashmir that there is a need for dialogue to resolve this issue. This was happening for the first time in more than 50 years,” he said.

Despite the failure of the two sides to get an agreement, Mahmood said Pakistan’s invitation to Vajpayee to visit still stands. “We certainly hope that the talks will continue. It is a disappointing set-back but the doors are always open for talks,” he said.

Although no date for fresh talks has been set, Mahmood said it’s possible that the two leaders may meet in New York when both leaders will be there to attend the UN General Assembly. 

AFP adds:
Islamic parties said the summit’s failure only proved that the Indians were not serious about solving the Kashmir issue.

“We all knew the Indian side will remain uncompromising but this rigidity has further exposed the real Indian face,” said Sajid Naqvi, leader of Shiite Muslim party Tehreek-i-Jafria Pakistan.

“There were hopes the summit would pave the way for a reduction of tension and usher an era of peace and prosperity in South Asia but the opportunity has been lost due to the Indian attitude.

“The international peace and human rights organisations will now be able to understand better who wants peace and who is the enemy of peace in this region.”

Ordinary people in the southern port city of Karachi also expressed a range of emotions, from frustration and anger to sad resignation.

“He (Musharraf) just wanted to take his wife to show her the Taj Mahal and do some shopping,” taxi driver Sher Khan, 18, said.


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