June 2007 News

Singh rebuffs Sharif on Kashmir talks with Musharraf

9 June 2007
The Dawn

New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rebuffed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's plea that New Delhi should not do a deal on Kashmir with President Gen Pervez Musharraf but he also said on Saturday that his visit to Pakistan was unlikely to happen any time soon in view of Pakistan's domestic problems. Mr Sharif told an Indian TV channel in London that he would not accept a deal on Kashmir signed by Gen Musharraf because he was not a legitimate representative of Pakistan. Dr Singh was asked to comment on this on his way back from Germany. Press Trust of India said that Dr Singh ignored Mr Sharif's suggestion and said New Delhi will “do business” with whosoever is in power in Islamabad. “I would certainly like to visit Pakistan but I think President Musharraf has problems at home and I don't want to complicate these,” Dr Singh said while returning from his four-day visit to meet G8 leaders. 'I do wish to go to Pakistan. I have an invitation which I have accepted,' Dr Singh said. Mr Sharif's comments to NDTV were excerpted by the Indian Express on Saturday. “For the first time since the start of the Indo- Pakistan peace process, Mr Sharif has warned that he will not accept any agreement on Jammu and Kashmir signed between India and what he calls the ‘illegitimate’ government of Gen Pervez Musharraf,” the Express said. On the peace process, Mr Sharif said “I don't agree with Mr Musharraf's policy. He is acting in a very casual manner. He is giving different options on Kashmir off-the-cuff, he doesn't consult the Parliament, he doesn't consult the political leaders in Pakistan, he doesn't consult the political parties in Pakistan. There is no institutionalised decision-making system in Musharraf's government. India, I think has also resented that, saying this is not the way to give proposals, through the press, and talk to us, through the press. So if you ask me this question, whether I would recognise (an agreement between India and the Musharraf regime), I would not.” When told that India can't wait forever, he said, 'What is the hurry? Why is India so impatient... Democracy is coming back to Pakistan, it is always good that two democracies talk to each other, rather than a democracy talking to dictatorship.' Mr Sharif also reached out to his Indian counterpart during Kargil, A B Vajpayee, the Express said, saying he was 'grateful' to the former Indian PM for having helped avert a nuclear conflict between the two countries during the war. Asked if Kargil was as much a surprise to him as it was to Mr Vajpayee, Mr Sharif pointed to the famous tape of a conversation between Gen Musharraf and the then Chief-of- General Staff General Aziz Khan during Kargil, which suggested that Mr Sharif had been kept in the dark about the operation. “The tape has all the evidence in that, the conversation between Gen Musharraf and Gen Aziz is clear proof of that. I think it says it all,” said Mr Sharif. “I handed it over to Mr Musharraf also. I said you have been trying to hide something from me. Now listen to this. He was stunned. He had nothing to say. And that is, I think, a turning point. That was the turning point... Even his close confidantes, his corps commanders and two chiefs of the armed forces, the Chief of Air Staff, and the Chief of Naval Staff were not aware of the Kargil adventure.”


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