M A I N   N E W S

PM, Pervez address Kashmir issue

New York, September 24
After 57 years of hostility and mutual suspicion, India and Pakistan today made a “new beginning” in their relations when they decided to consider all possible options for a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue and explore the possibility of the Iran-India gas pipeline via Pakistan.

In a statement issued after an hour-long one-on-one first encounter between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, the two countries reiterated their commitment to continue the bilateral dialogue to restore normalcy and cooperation between them.

At a brief joint media interaction at Roosevelt Hotel here after their talks, the two leaders also agreed that confidence-building measures (CBMs) of all categories under discussion between the two governments should be implemented keeping in mind practical possibilities.

The statement, in which there was no mention whether the issue of terrorism figured at their meeting, was read out by General Musharraf with Dr Manmohan Singh standing beside him.

Dr Manmohan Singh said, “I sincerely believe today is a historic day for us... We have made a new beginning.”

The statement said the two leaders addressed the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and “agreed that possible options for a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the issue should be explored in a sincere spirit and purposeful manner.”

It said “in the spirit of the Islamabad joint press statement of January 6, 2004, they agreed that CBMs will contribute to generating an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding so necessary for the well-being of the people of both countries.”

The statement, which appears to have been drafted very carefully by the two sides, said the possibility of a gas pipeline via Pakistan to India was also discussed. It was felt that such a project could contribute to the welfare and prosperity of the peoples of both countries and should be considered in the larger context of expanding trade and economic relations between India and Pakistan.

After reading out the statement, General Musharraf jocularly remarked that Dr Manmohan Singh had done him a favour by allowing to read out the statement.

“This augurs well for India-Pakistan relations,” he said, and asked the Prime Minister if he would like to say a few words to the media.

In his brief remarks, the mild mannered Indian Prime Minister said that before he embarked on his foreign tour, he was asked by the media what he expected to emerge from his meeting with General Musharraf.

“I had told them that this is an essay in mutual comprehension. I was privileged to have a one-on-one meeting with General Musharraf, the outcome of which he has read out to you,’’ he said. — UNI


PM turns philosophical

New York, September 24
A surprise gift from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today brought to fore the philosophical bent of mind and Urdu couplets from hard-nosed economist-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their first-ever interaction.

When Mr Musharraf presented a painting of the Prime Minister’s village in what is now West Punjab in Pakistan, his report card in that village school and an album containing photographs, the Prime Minister was highly touched by the gesture.

Manmohan Singh was born in a village now in Pakistan while Mr Musharraf was born in Delhi.

Striking a philosophical note on the “mistakes” of history, Mr Manmohan Singh recited Urdu couplets.

“Kuch aise bhi manzar hain tareek ki nazron mein/ Lamhe ne khata ki, sadiyon ne saja payee,” said one couplet. It was followed by another “Aa ki tarikyon se surkhiyan paide karen, is jameen ki bastiyon se aasman paida karen.”

The atmosphere of bonhomie also brought out couplets from External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh who told his Pakistani counterpart Khusrhid Mehmood Kasuri that “sahar chahe ho na ho, kabhi dekha tho hai, jis taraf dekha na tha, ab udhar dekha to hai.” — PTIBack

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