May 2001 News

Talks invite a considered move: PM

29 May 2001
The Indian Express
Ashwani Sharma

Manali: The invitation to General Pervez Musharraf was a well-considered move that followed serious initiatives taken by the Government in Jammu and Kashmir, including the ceasefire and its extension. This was stated by Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee today while speaking to reporters, before news of Musharraf’s reply had reached here. Asked what prompted him to write the letter to Musharraf after the Kargil experience, Vajpayee pointed out that India had not broken diplomatic ties with Pakistan even after the conflict. ‘‘We have never been opposed to a dialogue with Pakistan, weather it had military or political rulers,” he maintained and added that world leaders had also been advising India to hold bilateral talks with Pakistan. But the peace initiative showed India’s great self-confidence, and was not a sign of any weakness. The ceasefire in Kashmir had been extended twice, and the government was convinced that its further extension would not serve any purpose. ‘‘Thus we thought of making a new begining,’’ he said. Asked about Pakistan’s reported insistence on laying down certain pre-conditions, including involving the Hurriyat in the talks, the Prime Minister said Defence Minister Jaswant Singh had already made India’s stand clear. The Hurriyat leaders were released from the jails only with a purpose to involve them in exercise for restoration of the peace in Kashmir and the government’s official negotiator K.C. Pant is already in Kashmir. Hurriyat leaders should join in the efforts to find a solution to the Kashmir tangle. ‘‘Let there be talks amongst our own, then we can think of holding talks with outsiders,’’ he said.


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