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Diplomacy can't be conducted in public, PM tells Advani
March 14, 2007 17:37 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday turned down Leader of Opposition L K Advani's demands for clarifications on the peace process with Pakistan, saying the government does not believe in conducting diplomacy in public.
In reply to Advani's letter seeking a categorical statement from him that there would be no demilitarisation of Jammu and Kashmir and that troop deployment would not be part of bilateral negotiations, he said full regard was being given to India's administrative and Constitutional requirements and to the 'overriding imperatives of national security'.
"At the same time, we do not believe in conducting diplomacy in public and have conveyed our positions on these questions through the appropriate channels," the prime minister wrote.
In his letter, the senior BJP leader had sought an answer from Dr Singh as to how India could agree to a joint anti-terror mechanism with Pakistan, for which he insisted terrorism is an instrument of state policy.
Advani also asked Dr Singh why India had not rejected outright Pakistan's reported dossier accusing India of sponsoring terrorism in Baluchistan.
In his reply, Dr Singh, however, maintained that dialogue with Pakistan could make no 'meaningful' progress unless Islamabad lived up in 'letter and spirit' to its January 2004 commitment on checking terrorism.
"Subject to this, we are prepared to explore creative and cooperative solutions that can bring long lasting peace and amity between the two countries," Dr Singh said.
The prime minister said several ideas that have a bearing on improving relations between India and Pakistan were being discussed at various levels, but did not elaborate on them in his reply to Advani.
Dr Singh also referred to his meeting in January with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh and Advani himself to discuss ties with neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.
In his letter, Advani referred to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's four-point formula on Jammu and Kashmir, which he said has introduced 'new and unacceptable dimensions to an already complex situation'.
The former deputy prime minister wondered why Dr Singh had not rejected the mention of soft-borders, demilitarisation and self-governance.
"Observations attributed to you about making borders irrelevant have further contributed to the prevailing confusion," Advani, who also raised the question of Pakistan's 'safe haven' to wanted Indians like Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and Sayed Salauddin, wrote.
The BJP, which regretted Singh's reply that diplomacy should not be conducted in public, demanded immediate scrapping of the joint-terror mechanism with Pakistan.
"If Jammu and Kashmir and the issue of fugitives is not part of this joint-terror mechanism, it should then be scrapped immediately," said senior party leader Sushma Swaraj, who gave copies of the letters at a news conference.