Tuesday, April 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pervez does not raise Indo-Pak issue

Pakistan's Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz escort his Indian counterpart
Pakistan's Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz (L) escort his Indian counterpart K. C. Pant (C) and Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar at a dinner reception for the members SAARC in Islamabad on Monday. — Reuters photo

Islamabad, April 8
In sharp contrast to the raking up of Indo-Pak issue at the SAARC fora in Kathmandu and later here, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today refrained from raising bilateral issues at the group’s ministerial meeting, urging the member countries to launch a war against poverty.

Chief Interlocutor on Kashmir and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission K.C. Pant told the two-day SAARC Finance and Planning Ministers’ Conference on Poverty Alleviation that India would do whatever it can within its means to fight poverty.

“India stands fully committed and is ready and willing to do whatever it can within its limited means” to reduce poverty,” Mr Pant said.

After delivering a speech outlining his vision on development and poverty eradication in the South Asian region, General Musharraf quietly settled down for a little chat over tea with Mr Pant and other SAARC ministers to discuss the issues of mutual interest.

Earlier, soon after his arrival at the venue, General Musharraf shook hands with Mr Pant and other delegates attending the meeting.

Indian officials later clarified that there was no one-to-one meeting between General Musharraf and Mr Pant nor they discussed any bilateral issues. Mr Pant is heading a four-member official delegation at the meeting.

Belying all speculation that he might rake up Indo-Pak issues ignoring the SAARC charter, General Musharraf devoted most of his inaugural speech on the three-tier concept of regional development to effectively deal with grinding poverty of the region.

General Musharraf said Pakistan would oppose any disruption to the SAARC process and that Islamabad firmly stood for its continuity.

General Musharraf, who was formally scheduled to launch his poll campaign tomorrow from Lahore for the national referendum to be held next month, spoke strongly in favour of launching a regional initiative against corruption in high places, which he termed as “loot and money laundering.”

General Musharraf also spoke of dilemma faced by the developing countries over whether to invest in human resources or fast-track development.

Earlier, Pakistan Finance Minister Shoukat Aziz said one fifth of the world’s population lived in the South Asian region, where 46 per cent of the population was illiterate.

“In the rapidly changing global trading environment, the current state of the intra-SAARC trade is highly disappointing,” he said. PTIBack


Musharraf asked to contest election

Activists of exiled Prime Minister
Activists of exiled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party chant anti-government slogans from a police vehicle in Lahore on Monday. — Reuters photo

Islamabad, April 8
The Editor-in-Chief of the daily Nation and the Nawai Waqat Majid Nizami has asked President Pervez Musharraf to put off his army uniform and contest the elections.

“Though General Musharraf thinks he has opted for an easy course to retain the post of the President for another five years through referendum, he has in fact chosen a difficult track,’’ Mr Nizami said speaking at a reception hosted in his honour by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) on his completing 40 years as editor of the above two dailies.

The President, by his decision to hold a referendum, has created difficulties for himself as he will remain a controversial President even after he is able to retain the post, he added.

Mr Nizami called upon the President to fight elections and do away with referendum in the name of changing political culture.

Foreseeing no change in political culture, Mr Nizami said though there was such a claim, the question was whether this could be effected by holding two offices of President and the Chief of Army Staff by a one man.

A hand-picked Prime Minister and a National Security Council in a set-up wherein the elected Prime Minister would be subservient was not the ideal the Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal, visualised for Pakistan, he said. UNIBack

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