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Pak to lift ban on Indian overflights
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, November 30
On the eve of talks on the resumption of Indo-Pak civil aviation links, President Pervez Musharraf today announced that Pakistan would lift ban on Indian flights over its air space, removing another irritant in the normalisation of bilateral ties.

The significant announcement comes as the six-member Pakistani delegation arrived in New Delhi for the second round of two-day talks beginning tomorrow on the resumption of civil aviation links between the two countries.

“As a gesture of goodwill, Pakistan will agree to the resumption of overflights with India in the talks being held in New Delhi from tomorrow”, General Musharraf said while addressing a delegation from the Pakistan and India Young Professionals Organisation here, the official APP news agency reported.

India severed air links with Pakistan shortly after the terrorist attack on its Parliament on December 13, 2001, prompting Islamabad to retaliate by cutting all transportation links.

If Pakistan agrees to allow Indian aircraft to use its air space, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would be travelling to Islamabad in January directly from New Delhi to attend the SAARC summit.

Shortly after General Musharraf’s announcement, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said first of all there should not be any delay in working out the modalities and technicalities for the resumption of overflights. “Even if it (delay) happens.... these are not going to affect the flight of Prime Minister of India for the upcoming SAARC summit.

“Under all circumstances he has to come directly,” Mr Kasuri said and asked “why should he come via Dubai?”

Mr Kasuri said Mr Vajpayee would be accorded all cordiality and respect that is to be given to Prime Minister of India. “He will be received with full respect and protocol. He will come (to Islamabad) directly.”

General Musharraf, who made the announcement five days after the two countries started observing the ceasefire along their borders, also hoped that the recent thaw in relations in the wake of the ceasefire along the borders would culminate in the resumption of dialogue to resolve all disputes between the two countries.

“Pakistan is sincere in its efforts for peace in the region,” APP quoted him as saying.

Pakistan, however, he said, wanted peace with “honour, dignity and sovereign equality” like all other nations. — PTI


India welcomes Pak decision

New Delhi, November 30
India tonight welcomed Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s announcement that his country will lift the ban on Indian flights over its airspace and grant them landing rights, and hoped that the two-day talks on the resumption of civil aviation links would be fruitful.

“We welcome the announcement by President Musharraf that Pakistan will agree to overflights and landing rights”, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said ahead of the talks tomorrow between the civil aviation authorities of the two countries.

“We are looking forward to a successful outcome of the talks tomorrow and the day after,” he said.

SRINAGAR: Former Hurriyat Chairman Abdul Gani Bhat welcomed the Pakistani move, saying “both India and Pakistan are moving forward with wisdom and farsight to improve their relations in all walks of life.” — PTI


Reciprocate approach, Pak tells India

New Delhi, November 30
Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri today hoped that India would reciprocate Pakistan’s “flexible” approach for settling outstanding issues between the two, including Jammu and Kashmir, and sought early resumption of a composite dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad.

In a telephonic interview with Aaj Tak television channel Mr Kasuri said Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had presented a “very flexible formula” for solving outstanding issues between the two countries. The momentum should now be maintained, he said.

In both countries the governments were in a position to take decisions. The opportunity should not be wasted and momentum should be maintained. Societies in both countries should help maintain that momentum, he added.

Observing that Kashmir was not a difficult problem to solve, Mr Kasuri said all issues between the two countries should be discussed simultaneously. — UNI 

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