Khokhar arrives for talks
New Delhi, June 26
The news of Mr Jamali’s resignation came almost simultaneously with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar’s arrival here this evening for talks with his Indian counterpart Shashank.
There was no reaction from the Ministry of External Affairs to the news of Mr Jamali’s resignation.
Sources said Mr Jamali’s exit was “expected” and the development only showed it was the Pakistan Army and President Pervez Musharraf who call the shots.
It is an interesting coincidence that just before his India visit for the Agra summit in July 2001, General Musharraf, who was till then Chief Executive of Pakistan, had sacked President Rafiq Tarar and coronated himself as the President. On the eve of resumption of the Foreign Secretary-level dialogue between India and Pakistan after a gap of six years, General Musharraf has sacrificed his Prime Minister.
According to diplomatic observers, Mr Jamali was increasingly seen by General Musharraf as one who was flexing his muscles. The Musharraf-Jamali rift had widened after two Bills were floated in Pakistan’s National Assembly: the 17th Amendment Bill and the National Security Council Bill.
On the former Bill, General Musharraf was miffed with Mr Jamali, the observers said, as he was perceived to be not very active in garnering support of the Muttahida Muslim Alliance (MMA).
As for the latter Bill, Mr Jamali’s role of pressing for modification of the Bill to give more role to the elected representatives was not taken very kindly by General Musharraf.
Sources pointed out that after India’s October 22, 2003 announcement of 13-point Confidence Building Measures, the initial reaction of Pakistan, articulated by Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar, was rather frigid. But the fuller and more detailed response of Pakistan, announced by Mr Jamali on November 23 last, was positive.
In this speech, Mr Jamali had announced unilateral military ceasefire on International Border, Line of Control and Siachen. The ceasefire came into effect from November 25 midnight and is still holding.
Meanwhile, Mr Khokhar told reporters on his arrival at the airport here: “We are going to kickstart the composite dialogue. We have very important business to do. We certainly will approach these talks with great sincerity and seriousness and hope we will be able to do some solid business”.
He said he brought greetings and good wishes from the people and Government of Pakistan.
Mr Khokhar, who was Pakistan’s High Commissioner here from 1992-97, said he was “very delighted” to be in Delhi after many years. “We will be discussing peace and security, CBMs and the fundamental issue of J and K. We are looking forward to talks with our friends here”.