September 1999 News


India denies secret deal with Pakistan on J&K

16 September 1999
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: India today denied any secret deal with Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue within a fixed time-frame.

Responding to reports from Islamabad that the Kargil conflict had come in the way of an understanding between the two governments on a time bound resolution of the Kashmir issue, the Foreign Office spokesman said, "the suggestion of a time frame on (setting) Jammu and Kashmir is denied."

The spokesman was responding to questions on the Pakistani Foreign Minister, Mr. Sartaj Aziz's reported comments during a debate in the Pakistani Senate. According to these reports, Mr. Aziz had said that New Delhi and Islamabad had agreed to resolve the Kashmir issue within nine to 12 months. Besides, they had decided to respect the Line of Control (LoC) under the Shimla framework and defuse the Kargil crisis.

Mr. Aziz attributed this understanding to "back channel diplomacy" which was triggered by the meeting between the two Prime Ministers in Lahore in February. The reports also referred to the visit by the former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, Mr. Niaz Naik, to New Delhi in June as a special envoy of the Pakistani Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif. Mr. Naik during his trip, had apparently drawn specific attention to broad principles to put the stalled Indo-Pak. dialogue back on track. The former Pakistani Foreign Secretary had met the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, and his Principal Secretary, Mr. Brajesh Mishra, during his stay.

Clarifying India's stand on Kashmir, the spokesman acknowledge that New Delhi was discussing the issue with Pakistan under the framework of the Indo-Pak, "composite dialogue," India's stand on Jammu and Kashmir, he reiterated, was driven by the position adopted by Parliament in February 1994. That Parliamentary resolution had declared that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan occupied Kashmir, was an integral part of India.

The spokesman parried questions on the alleged "back channel" contracts between the two sides. But referring specifically to Mr. Niaz Naik's mission, he pointed out that the talks during the Pakistani diplomat's trip took place "in the context of the Kargil situation." During that meeting, the Prime Minister had pointed to the urgency of Pakistani withdrawal from the Indian side of the LoC, the spokesman observed. "The message was clear - withdraw forces and reaffirm the sanctity of the LoC." The spokesman described as "entirely fanciful", the reports about the Pakistani Prime Minister's intent to stop in New Delhi on his return to Pakistan from Beijing.

Mr. Naik, in an interview with the Pakistani Urdu daily, Jang, had claimed that hard liners in the BJP had dissuaded Mr. Vajpayee from allowing Mr. Sharif's plane a "technical halt" in New Delhi on his return from China.

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