M A I N   N E W S

PM not averse to meeting Pervez
Rajeev Sharma and Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 21
There are strong indications here that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will not be averse to a meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf when he visits Islamabad for the 12th SAARC Summit from January 4 to 6, next.

Authoritative sources here told The Tribune that the Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting would be considered neither as bilateral talks nor the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue.

The thinking in government circles here is that such a meeting can at best be described as a diplomatic courtesy which a guest Prime Minister extends to the head of government of a host nation.

Sources here pointed out that any Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting between January 4 and 6 would be without any agenda. It would just be as the then Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao had eight such meetings with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Incidentally, all eight Rao-Sharif meetings had taken place at neutral venues.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which met here under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister on Friday, thrashed out the Government’s strategy for Mr Vajpayee’s forthcoming visit to Islamabad. The CCS also reviewed the thaw in Indo-Pak relations ever since Prime Minister’s April 19 peace initiative announced in Jammu and Kashmir.

The CCS particularly took note of General Musharraf’s surprise announcement in an interview that Islamabad had left aside the United Nations Security Council resolution on Kashmir including Pakistan’s demand for plebiscite in Kashmir.

The considered opinion of the government here is that bilateral talks with Pakistan cannot be resumed until Islamabad puts a permanent stop to cross-border terrorism and dismantles all terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and territory controlled by it.

The view in South Block corridors here is that if the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan is to start, it will not be top-down but bottom-up, implying that the talks will start from the bottom of the ladder rather than the top of the ladder.

This thinking effectively eliminates the possibilities of the bilateral dialogue resuming at the summit level and any eventual Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting should be viewed from this prism.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |