August 2001 News

CE offered to retake land ceded to China: Vajpayee''s disclosure

7 August 2001
The Dawn
Jawed Naqvi

NEW DELHI: President Pervez Musharraf has offered to take back the part of Kashmir ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963 if an agreement is reached with India to resolve the 54-year-old dispute, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told parliament on Tuesday. Vajpayee used his reply to the discussion on the Agra Summit in the Lok Sabha to tell Gen Musharraf that he must curb what India calls cross-border terrorism in Kashmir for progress on future talks over the Himalayan region. But he said the peace process would continue anyway in other areas. Vajpayee said he reminded Musharraf during their Agra talks that ''Pakistan has given away our territory to China. By what authority did they give it away? He said never mind, if we succeed in an agreement (on Kashmir), we will take back the land from China. I said no one will trust you with that. Therefore please accept reality.'' Indian politicians have accused China in the past of illegally holding the area in the Shaksgam Valley that was ceded by Pakistan. Analysts said this could be the first time that a Pakistani leader has promised to take the territory back from China. India says China continues to be in illegal occupation of about 38,000 sq-km of Jammu and Kashmir, in addition to the 5,180 sq-km of Indian territory that Pakistan ceded. Vajpayee said when he asked Gen Musharraf to check cross-border terrorism in Kashmir he replied that it was freedom struggle that was going on there. ''I said this was completely unacceptable to us. It was at this point that the atmosphere was completely spoilt for the talks to progress.'' Vajpayee said there were violent incidents happening inside Pakistan that were rooted in terrorism. ''Terrorism is creating problems for their government also,'' he said. Relations with Pakistan were rarely even. There were ups and downs. ''Sometimes there is friendship, sometimes war and sometimes we have a ceasefire. This is the brief story of our relations over 50 years,'' Vajpayee said. ''Our effort is always to improve relations with neighbouring countries.'' Vajpayee said President Musharraf may have been influenced by the assessment of some Pakistani journalists who thought that Kashmir was like a ripe fruit waiting to be dropped into his lap. ''There should be no confusion here. India is ready to repulse any attack and meet any challenge inside our territory.'' Vajpayee said President Musharraf did not want to include the Shimla and Lahore agreements in the draft declaration being prepared in Agra. ''In fact the name of Shimla appeared to spoil the taste in his mouth. We said this won''t do.'' Vajpayee said Musharraf defended the invasion of Kashmir by tribesmen in 1947. ''I was surprised, I want to take the house into confidence, when he said that had the tribals not attacked Kashmir at that time, Pakistan would not have had even that part of Kashmir. I said Kashmir might be a piece of territory for you, it is a core of our lives.'' ''He said the other Pakistani leaders who had discussed Kashmir with India had not pressed hard enough. I said if you are going to press hard, the talks will stop just there.'' Vajpayee said he would not close the door for talks. ''We have spelt out our point of view. Pakistan will have to respect it. I hope Pakistan too will change its approach to the talks.''


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