Saturday, January 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India 


M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee, Pervez come face to face

Kathmandu, January 4
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf came face-to-face at a dinner hosted in honour of SAARC leaders by Nepal King Gyanendra at his palace here.

There was only an exchange of pleasantries between the two leaders before the start of the dinner at the Narayanhiti Royal Palace, SAARC sources said.

This was the first time that Mr Vajpayee and General Musharraf have come face to face since their failed summit in Agra in July, last year.

The seating at the palace was such that it kept the leaders of India and Pakistan at a “considerable distance” from each other, The dinner was also attended by Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Maldives President M.A. Gayoom and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lyonpo Wangchuk. UNI

Pak official held with fake notes, released

Kathmandu, January 4
Islamabad was saved from a major embarrassment when top Nepali officials ordered the immediate release of a Pakistani Embassy official, who was caught last night with counterfeit US and Indian currencies.

The arrest of Siraj Ahmed Siraj, a clerk at the Pakistani mission, was snowballing into a major diplomatic row between Pakistan and Nepal when top officials intervened to avoid any embarrassment for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

Siraj was picked up from outside Ambassador Hotel here and the police recovered from him fake Indian currency worth Rs 47,000 and US currency worth $ 9,200.

A Pakistani Embassy official in Kathmandu alleged that the police had arrested an embassy staffer last evening on false charges of carrying fake currency. The official claimed that another Pakistani staffer, who went to the police station to ascertain the details about the arrest, was manhandled and suffered facial injuries.

Pakistan is reported to have lodged a “strong protest” with the Nepal Government over the incident. “This is complete fabrication. It is an attempt to sabotage SAARC,” the official said.

Pakistan Ambassador to Nepal Fauzia Nasreen was quoted as saying that the Nepal Government had admitted that the detention was a case of mistaken identity and expressed the hope that the event would not disrupt the summit.

“They have expressed deep regret over the incident,” Mr Nasreen said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan today accused Nepal of trying to sabotage a high-profile South Asian summit here at the behest of India by detaining an embassy staffer.

An official with the Pakistan Embassy said the four policemen who detained the man had been accompanied by Indian agents who tried to film the incident until they were stopped by Nepalese officers. UNI, AFP


IA to fly back Indian staff from Pak today

New Delhi, January 4
An Indian Airlines Airbus 300 will leave tomorrow morning to bring back Indian High Commission personnel from Islamabad.

The plane will bring back around 55 officials and staff of the Indian High Commission who have to return following Islamabad’s reciprocal action to reduce the Indian staff strength by 50 per cent.

The 247-seater aircraft on a special flight, the first after Pakistan closed their airspace to Indian planes from January 1, is scheduled to leave here at 10.30 a.m.

India has given permission to the Pakistan International Airlines to land at Indira Gandhi International Airport to take back staff from their High Commission. UNI


No proof given, counters Pak
Tribune News Service

Kathmandu, January 4
Pakistan continued to harp on lack of proof and evidence in bringing to book those involved in terror against the sovereign people of India and sought to blame New Delhi for not responding to its plaints for resolving disputes, including the core issue of Kashmir peacefully through dialogue.

President Pervez Musharraf’s spokesperson Rashid Qureshi insisted that India had not provided a “shred of evidence to Pakistan”, though his country had received the latest list of 20 terrorists provided by India. He refused to respond positively about Pakistan conducting its own investigations against the latest list of terrorists provided by India.

He expectedly refused to admit that the ISI was the master of terrorists and terrorist organisations operating from Pakistan.

Claiming to have initiated action under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorist Act which was promulgated four or five months back, Maj-Gen Qureshi told mediapersons here tonight it was not a “question of bending as Pakistan believes in peace.” He also said that Pakistan had never spoken about taking action any terrorist organisation based in that country.

Asked to comment that India has constantly charged Pakistan with not creating a conducive atmosphere for talks, General Qureshi said it would be appropriate to pose this question to the Indian side.

In a laboured and unconvincing exercise, he said the world understood that Pakistan had cooperated with the world in the war against terrorism.

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