Friday, July 20, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Structured agenda in future must, says Opposition
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
Even as major political parties today asked Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to go with a “structured agenda” when he meets Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf the next time for talks, the government was taken to task at the all-party meeting for its failure to manage media at the Agra summit.

The opposition parties asked the government to draw lessons from the failed Agra summit while dealing with Islamabad in future.

Briefing newspersons about the two-and-a-half-hour meeting held in a committee room of Parliament House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan said that all political parties, barring the Shiv Sena favoured the visit of the Prime Minister to Pakistan.

The Shiv Sena opposed any dialogue with Islamabad until Pakistan stopped cross -border terrorism, Mr Mahajan pointed out.

Mr Mahajan said the Prime Minister told the leaders that there was no change in the government’s policy on Kashmir and now it was clear that Pakistan was not interested in discussing any issue, except Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India, Mr Vajpayee assured the leaders and said there would be no compromise on issues of national interest. He said that he had accepted General Musharraf’s invitation to visit Islamabad but dates would be decided later.

He said India also proposed talks on the nuclear issue with a view to avoiding any nuclear accident or firing of nuclear weapons but Pakistan did not agree to it, insisting only on Kashmir.

The Prime Minister, however, made it clear that the Agra summit could not be termed as unsuccessful even though no agreement could be arrived between the two countries.

Earlier, coming out of the meeting, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Manmohan Singh said, “The summit did not have a structured agenda and this reinforced our earlier view that there was no homework or groundwork for the summit”.

The main opposition party along with the Left and other parties were of the opinion that dialogue with Pakistan should continue, whether in Islamabad or on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

CPM and CPI leaders Ramachandran Pillai and J. Chittranjan also criticised the government for not making enough preparations, with the latter asserting that “Indian delegation did not appear unified”. While the RJD and the BSP did not attend the meeting, among others present included Mr P.A.Sangma (NCP), Mr D.P. Yadav (JD-U), Mr Abani Roy (RSP) and others.

No ‘reneging’ on accords

New Delhi, July 19
A day after rejecting the draft Agra declaration, India today made it clear there was no question of “reneging” from the Simla and Lahore accords even as it hoped that the dialogue would move forward with the twin objective of peace and goodwill.

An External Affairs Ministry spokesperson told reporters, adding, “We hope the dialogue will move forward. Our objective is peace and goodwill.”

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh has accepted His Pakistani counterpart’s invitation to visit Pakistan. PTIBack


Pak asks for clues about PoWs

Islamabad, July 19
Pakistan has said there are no Indian Prisoners of War (PoWs) in its jails but Islamabad is ready to trace them again if New Delhi provided clues about their presence.

During the Agra summit, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee raised the issue with President Pervez Musharraf of the presence of 54 Indian PoWs still languishing in Pakistani jails and demanded their immediate release and return to India. General Musharraf had promised to look into the matter.

“We don’t have any such prisoners in our jails,” Pakistan Interior Secretary Tasneem Noorani told a newspaper here.

“A total of 135 Indian nationals were found detained in different Pakistani jails. Not only that none of them was a PoW, but also over 70 of them were waiting for the Indian Government’s arrangements to take them back to India,” Mr Noorani told ‘The News.’

Mr Noorani said a similar exercise could be conducted again for India’s satisfaction if New Delhi passed on to the Pakistani authorities any clue about the presence of Indian PoWs.

“We will again undertake a similar exercise if it is required so. But if they (India or the relatives of missing soldiers) have any clue they should pass it on to us for investigation,” he said.

The Interior Secretary supported General Musharraf’s view that there was no reason to keep Indian PoWs (of the 1971 war) in Pakistani jails for 30 years.

Some PoWs might be useful for the enemy country, but what could Pakistan gain out of any Indian PoWs for 30 long years, he said. PTI 


Advani gave proof of Pak role in J&K
Ravi Bhatia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
One of the reasons that India has indicated to Pakistan that they should forget Agra and start afresh, preferably on the basis of the two agreements in Shimla and Lahore, is that India had achieved its prime purpose of informing the highest authority in Pakistan that it had clinching evidence of official support to cross-border terrorism.

According to those associated with the talks in Agra, the Home Minister, Mr. L. K. Advani, had virtually surprised the Pakistani President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, when he produced a hefty file containing incontrovertible evidence of the involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in not only abetting cross-border terrorism but also facilitating training camps to maintain a constant flow of subversives into the Kashmir valley and other parts of the country.

Sources also claimed that it was conveyed to General Musharraf how because of the across the border sponsorship, the entire complexion of the situation in the valley had changed as “terrorism was taken over by foreign mercenaries nudging out the few misguided Kashmiri youth. There were more Afghans than Kashmiris in the ranks of various terrorist outfits active in the valley and this could happen only with the official support of some Pakistani agencies.

It could in no way be referred to as a freedom struggle of Kashmiris, it was pointed out to the Pakistani President.

These officials said that it was this fact which became a subject of heated debate between General Musharraf and Mr Vajpayee at the Agra summit. “Had the Pakistani President agreed to have these facts in the joint statement, he would have admitted to his country’s role in sponsoring terrorism,” a senior official said.

The Pakistani President was obviously aware of the consequences of this and that was precisely why he refused to relent. The Kashmir issue (as both the leaders preferred to refer to the situation in the valley) had already been sorted out as both had agreed to refer to it as an “issue”.

But now, offering to go back to Simla and Lahore agreements, India is giving a way out to Pakistan as both these accords “are comprehensive and cover the bilateral relations in its entirety”, a senior official explained.

Senior officials said that India would be willing to sort out the contentious issues once Pakistan stops giving official support to the terrorists and terrorist groups and peace returns to the valley.Back

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