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Thaw in Indo-Pak ties may revive SAARC
Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi |
April 30, 2003 19:32 IST
The swift denial issued by the government on reports that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had turned down Pakistan Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali's invitation to visit Islamabad has increased the chances of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit being hosted soon.
The SAARC summit, which was scheduled to be held in January this year, was postponed indefinitely by the current host Pakistan, after it said India had refused to confirm whether it would attend the summit or not.
There is mounting pressure on the two nations from the international community, especially the United States and the United Kingdom, to improve relations and ease tensions. The US has repeatedly asked Pakistan to stop cross-border infiltration and exercise its influence over terrorists operating in India to rein in their attacks. As part of the continuing US pressure US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage would shortly be visiting India and Pakistan. Informed sources told rediff.com that Armitage might possibly be carrying a peace plan to be whetted by both India and Pakistan.
Both the US and the UK have also been consistently proposing to send peacekeepers to the Line of Control to monitor and prevent infiltration. But New Delhi has always opposed such a move saying it is opposed to third party mediation on the Kashmir issue. It was in this context that New Delhi took no time to reject Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri's proposal for the stationing of observers from United Nations Security Council's permanent members and two Islamic States along the Line of Control.
Vajpayee's offer of talks with Pakistan, say BJP sources, needs to be considered in the context of his earlier statement that he would attend the SAARC summit 'no matter where the venue would be'. They said the prime minister may attend the SAARC meet during which the ground for a sustained dialogue between the two nations would be laid.
Significantly the Left parties have been openly supporting the resumption of dialogue and see it as the only option for restoring peace in the sub-continent. The Congress has also maintained in its foreign affairs resolution in the last AICC session at Talkatora ground that the government should not have stopped the peace process with Pakistan.
"Talks are the only way out to ease tension and create an environment of peace in South Asia," Communist Party of India-Marxist Rajya Sabha member Nilotpal Basu had claimed at a recent party press conference in Parliament.
On Wednesday even the BJP, which had initially stuck to its known position of opposing any engagement with Pakistan till terrorism ends, on Wednesday toned down its approach expressing surprise at reports that said Vajpayee had turned down the Pakistan offer. "The Prime Minister had never uttered a single word of this sort," BJP parliamentary party spokesman V K Malhotra said. The BJP's apparent change of heart gives currency to the theory that Vajpayee was trying to create a favourable environment for another stab at peace with Pakistan.