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Pak does not understand J&K well: India



November 26, 2004 16:14 IST

India on Friday took a swipe at Pakistan for holding talks with the various Hurriyat factions, saying Islamabad does not understand the realities in Jammu and Kashmir.

"In my opinion, if they (Pakistan) think that only the Hurriyat represents the people of Kashmir, then there is something fundamentally wrong with their understanding of [the] realities in J&K," External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh told Karan Thapar on the CNBC programme, 'Tonight at 10'.

When asked whether Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz meeting the leaders of the Hurriyat factions during his visit to New Delhi amounted to interference in India's internal affairs, he said, "No, I don't think they are interfering in the internal affairs. But in my own view -- and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the same thing -- they are being unrealistic," he said.

Natwar Singh said the government did not mind Pakistani leaders meeting the Hurriyat factions. He, however, hoped this would not be an irritant in relations between the two countries. The Hurriyat is not willing to talk to the government, "but they are willing to talk to the other side," he said.

He pointed out that the PM had invited Karan Singh, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti for the lunch he had hosted for his Pakistani counterpart and had told the visiting leader: "You want to meet the representatives of the people of Kashmir, here they are."

On the Pakistan premier's contention that Islamabad is unlikely to grant the Most-Favoured Nation status to India unless the Kashmir issue is resolved, Natwar Singh said, "This is one element, which is coming in the way of the gas pipeline (between India and Iran via Pakistan) going through."

India, he said, hoped that it will be able to persuade Pakistan "because if this is the conditionality, then you cannot move forward." When asked if it will be a "full stop" if this was the conditionality, he said, "On this issue, yes."

Asked about the verbal cross fire following Musharraf's suggestion that some zones of Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control could either be demilitarised, granted independence, kept under joint Indo-Pak control or governed as per a United Nation's mandate, he said the 'misunderstanding' has been cleared with Aziz and [Pakistan] Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri saying the ideas were meant only for internal debate in Pakistan.

Singh felt that Musharraf's proposal "in some ways is quite daring" as it did not mention plebiscite, UN resolutions, or speak about the wishes of the Kashmiri people -- a line often taken by Pakistan.

Singh said during the talks with Aziz, the PM made it clear that he did not have the mandate of the people to redraw the country's map or for a second partition. Within these parameters, New Delhi is willing to discuss anything, he said.


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