April 2002 News

Pant off to Pak with J-K on mind

5 April 2002
The Indian Express
Aasha Khosa

New Delhi: It''s time for track II diplomacy again. Planning Commission deputy chairperson K.C. Pant, who leaves for Islamabad tomorrow to attend a SAARC ministerial conference, is expected to negotiate with Pakistan on Kashmir during his six-day stay. Pant’s apparent mission is to attend the three-day SAARC conference on ‘‘Strategies on Poverty Alleviation,’’ beginning April 8. The conference would be inaugurated by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Prime Minister Vajpayee himself selected Pant as the head of the delegation comprising officials from the Planning Commission and External Affairs ministry. Sources said Pant has met the Prime Minister three times since. That Pant apparently has Kashmir in mind while leaving for Islamabad was clear when his office summoned services of ‘Kashmir hands’ before his departure. Some of them have even been included in the delegation that is heading for Islamabad. Officially, the country’s chief interlocuter on Kashmir would be meeting Pervez Musharraf and Pakistani Finance Minister Showkat Aziz along with other leaders of SAARC delegations. The leaders are also going for a retreat in Taxila and Lokvista where Pant would have the opportunity to interact informally with Pakistani leaders.


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