Tuesday, July 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM’s Pak visit unlikely this year
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23
Even though Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has accepted Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s invitation to visit Islamabad, it is unlikely that the trip will materialise in a hurry.

Authoritative sources said the prospects of Mr Vajpayee paying a visit to Pakistan appears remote before March-April 2002, possibly during the interrugnum of the budget session of Parliament. Notwithstanding the imponderables, that is the only possible “window” as of now.

Clearly, the BJP-led NDA government wants a cooling off period after the Agra summit coupled with Pakistan’s cacophony on the centrality of Kashmir dying down. If Indo-Pak relations are to have a meaningful and forward looking content, the “give and take cannot be a one way street. Pakistan must rein in the jehadi elements and stop cross-border terrorism.”

If Pakistan continues to pursue its machinations of bleeding India through its proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir, the NDA leadership has no doubt that it can meet the challenge and counter the terrorist menace effectively.

Pakistan wants to press what it perceives as an advantage from Agra by having External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh in Islamabad before August 15 for keeping the talks apace. Again, Mr Jaswant Singh is expected to adopt a go slow policy till the memory of Agra is buried and hopefully forgotten as a bad dream.

The government’s assessment that stability on the line of control will be disturbed along with a sudden spurt in terrorist violence by militant organisations aided and abetted by Pakistan in the wake of General Musharraf returning home “empty handed” has not been misplaced.

New Delhi is acutely aware that General Musharraf is doing everything to appease his constituents but can that take him far without fissures developing in the army establishment posing a threat to his leadership? That is the question doing rounds in the corridors of power and among Pakistan experts here.

Mr Vajpayee has a hectic schedule ahead of him till December. He first travels to New York for the session of the United Nations General Assembly in September followed by his visit to Australia for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the first half of October. In November, the Prime Minister is scheduled to be in Moscow. Then, there are prospects of the SAARC summit taking place in Nepal either in December or January.

The Vajpayee-Musharraf summit has definitely contributed in getting an insight to the Pakistan President’s line of thinking that diplomatese is not his forte.

What the Indian leadership found completely out of sync was General Musharraf’s “commando” style of attempting to bulldoze his way through by undertaking propaganda blitzkrieg. Alas, that has come unstuck.

The self annointed President of Pakistan came with the mistaken notion that “it is a win win situation for him.” General Musharraf had reportedly told the Pakistani media that Mr Vajpayee had taken the initiative of inviting him for resuming the stalled dialogue because of the sacrifice of the jehadis and intense western pressure especially from the Bush administration in Washington.

Mr Vajpayee and his ministerial colleagues assisting him in Agra realised General Musharraf’s gambit and decided to apply the brakes. Therefore, if the summit came a cropper the NDA leadership has no doubt that the blame lay solely at the door of an obstinate General Musharraf who only wanted to trumpet his own agenda.

Considering the irreconciliable differences between the two sides on how to put the bedevilled Indo-Pak relations on an even keel, authoritative sources emphasised that “flexibility and openness cannot be a one way street.”Back


Pak yet to send invitation, says Sattar

Islamabad, July 23
Pakistan is yet to send formal invitation to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to visit Islamabad as it is awaiting the signature of President Pervez Musharraf, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said today.

The draft of the invitation letter is ready and awaiting the approval and signature of General Pervez Musharraf, he told a group of Indian correspondents who came to cover the President’s recent press conference.

He said the invitation had not been sent to Mr Vajpayee as reported in a section of the Pakistani media but would be despatched shortly after the military ruler signed it. Mr Sattar said his own letter inviting External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh would be despatched in the course of the week.

He declined to react to Mr Vajpayee’s statement blaming Pakistan for the failure of the Agra summit. PTIBack

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