April 2002 News

Visit has nothing to do with bilateral ties: Pant

8 April 2002
The Hindu
B.Muralidhar Reddy

Islamabad: The Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and the Prime Minister's `pointman' on Kashmir, K.C. Pant, had a face-to-face with the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, at a tea ceremony after the inauguration of the SAARC Ministerial conference on "poverty alleviation". As the tea session lasted over half-an-hour, waiting reporters became curious about the ceremony. Approached by reporters about the details of his discussion with the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, Mr. Pant said the discussion took place in the presence of other Ministerial delegations from the SAARC countries and that the exchange of views was strictly in the context of the theme of the meeting. ``It was a useful interaction. Gen. Musharraf was giving details of the various initiatives taken by his Government in the spheres of poverty alleviation and devolution of power at the grassroots level. Nothing less and nothing more'', he said when a reporter wanted to know if any issue in the context of the Indo-Pak tension figured. Asked if he had brought any message from New Delhi to end the current stalemate, Mr. Pant said he was here to attend the SAARC Ministerial conference in his capacity as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission. "My visit has nothing to do with Indo-Pak relations''. When the reporter persisted if New Delhi was not interested in peace, Mr. Pant coolly replied, "I am here to attend the conference''. Earlier on his arrival for the inaugural ceremony, Gen. Musharraf shook hands with Mr. Pant and other delegates. Indian officials insist that as of now that there is no plan for a one-to-one meeting between Mr. Pant and any other functionary in the Musharraf administration. The Finance Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz, had expressed his desire in the course of a press conference that he would like a bilateral meeting with the Indian delegation, but till now nothing concrete has been planned. Mr. Pant is to return to Delhi in the early hours of Wednesday.


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