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Indo-Pak peace process will not be poll issue: Yashwant Sinha

September 16, 2003 11:07 IST

External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha has told Pakistani daily that barring an 'accident', the peace process initiated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee would not become an issue during the general election in India next year.

He acknowledged that the peace process had found a large number of supporters among the public in both countries, which works to assure that the process would remain sustainable.

"Contrary to what might have been expected, the (peace) process initiated by Prime Minister Vajpayee has received wide support in India as indeed it has in Pakistan.

"Recent developments have shown that the people of the two countries want peace. Therefore, barring an accident, I should think that Pakistan will not be an issue in Indian elections," Sinha said in an interview to Pakistani daily The News.

Lowering expectations, Sinha has said that the prime minister's visit to Islamabad in January 2004 to attend the SAARC meet would not necessarily lead to a summit with the Pakistani leadership.

"I am bringing expectations down because everyone thinks that if Vajpayee travels to Islamabad, summit-level dialogue between India and Pakistan will follow," Sinha said.

"There must be adequate preparation for a summit-level meeting, and I don't see enough time between now and the SAARC meet for preparation," he said.

Sinha also made it clear that Pakistan should take further measures to prevent militants from crossing the Line of Control and infiltrating into Jammu and Kashmir before the India-Pak peace process could gather momentum.

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