March 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India
India reacts to Musharraf’s remarks
New Delhi, March 2
Asked about anti-India rhetoric by Mr Musharraf in an interview to an Indian television channel, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said the Pakistan President had chosen to “repeat his time-worn, trite and hackneyed position that try to mask Pakistan’s real intentions and designs”.
Mr Musharraf rebutted New Delhi’s charge of Pakistan sponsoring cross-border terrorism in Kashmir and responded with his oft repeated claim that the people in Kashmir were fighting for their “freedom”. The Pakistan leader said he was ready to initiate a dialogue with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Kashmir while acknowledging that it was an issue under the 1972 Simla Agreement.
The Pakistan President also rejected India’s demand for handing over 20 wanted terrorists and criminals who have taken refuge in that country. He also refused to comment on the activities of underworld don and a prime accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts Dawood Ibrahim, who is reportedly staying in Karachi.
Mr Sarna said “the fact remains that Pakistan has to be judged not through facile statements in the media but actions on the ground”.
Dismissing Mr Musharraf’s claim that he was not unifocal, Mr Sarna said “in the entire interview, he proved that he was precisely that”. The spokesman said it appeared that Mr Musharraf “has no intentions of fulfilling his commitments and international obligations to end cross-border terrorism, to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorists and stop Pakistan from serving as a platform for international terrorists”.
His posture of being the misunderstood party was “disquieting” because it indicated that he had no intention of changing his policies and responding to the legitimate Indian demand that Pakistan make a “credible, transparent, visible and verifiable move to end cross-border terrorism,” he said. On Mr Musharraf’s remarks that Indian leaders and officials have deliberately misrepresented him, Mr Sarna noted the Pakistani President’s “own repetition of statements and positions” which had brought international opprobrium on Pakistan.
“His (Musharraf’s) glib and obviously fabricated denial of his role in Kargil proves this point,” the spokesman said observing “attempts at being media savvy and painting false pictures do not solve problems. What is needed is a clear and objective understanding of facts and sincere intention to act and this has not been obvious in Pakistan’s attitude.” Indian leaders have made it clear time and again that only when Pakistan’s involvement with cross-border terrorism stopped could bilateral dialogue take place, he stressed.
Without denying the presence of terrorists in Pakistan, who masterminded the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament, Mr Musharraf claimed in the interview that his government would go all out to nab the terrorists.
Harping on the Kashmir issue, he made it clear that no Pakistani leader could afford the risk of ignoring it and one who did would be ousted from the country. “Kashmir is, therefore, a compulsion in any bilateral talks between India and Pakistan,” he said, adding there could never be a dialogue between the two countries without Kashmir being the core issue.
He claimed that non-inclusion of the Kashmir issue in the 1999 Lahore Declaration led to its failure.
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