M A I N   N E W S

Parliamentary delegation calls off Pak visit
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 15
The first sign of India-Pakistan peace process coming to a jerky halt was visible today as a two-member Indian Parliamentary delegation that was scheduled to be in Islamabad tomorrow for a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting called off its visit.

Moreover, this correspondent understands, New Delhi has taken a position that no Pakistani official delegation or a ministerial visit to India would be welcome.

Add to this the categoric assertion by Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran at his special media briefing today that “it is becoming difficult to take the peace process forward” and a complete picture emerges: that the three-year-old Indo-Pak peace process is dead and buried, at least for now.

A two-member delegation of Indian Parliamentarians — Ms Brinda Karat, a CPM member in the Rajya Sabha and Mr Sandip Dixit, a Congress member from the Lok Sabha — was to attend a Commonwealth meeting in Islamabad to discuss gender bias. Its cancellation has huge political connotations as it clearly means that the Left Parties too are with the government on sending a tough message to Pakistan after the July 11 terror mayhem in Mumbai and Srinagar.

Though Mr Saran did not say that his talks with his Pakistani counterpart had been called off or cancelled, he left none in doubt that India would decide on the dates for the Secretary-level review meeting of the Composite Dialogue process “at an appropriate time”. Without chewing words, he said incidents like July 11 did undermine the peace process and put a question mark on the whole thing. He also said the peace process could not go ahead while ignoring the public opinion.

The Foreign Secretary, whose media briefing had been arranged primarily on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to St Petersburg tomorrow for attending the G-8 Plus Five summit, made it clear that Dr Manmohan Singh would be making a very strong pitch at the G-8 for a united response as the matter affected the whole world.

“You have seen the networks which have come to our attention whether if you look at the London bombings, or what has been happening in other parts of the world, it is quite apparent that these are all interlinked. Therefore, you cannot have a segmented response to terrorism. I think the message which should come out from the G-8 is that the world accepts that there cannot be a segmented response to terrorism and that unless we are ready to work together and really look this problem in the face we do not really succeed.”

Mr Saran said the international community had to come out with a very unambiguous expression that such acts of terrorism were totally unacceptable. 





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