Obama's Assured Me No Change In US Stand On Kashmir: PM3 March 2010
Times of India
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday rose in the Lok Sabha to ask BJP leader L K Advani whether the NDA had ever bothered to inform Parliament 'even once' about then foreign minister Jaswant Singh's talks with US diplomat Straube Talbott. If this had not been the case, why should he respond to the allegations, said the PM. Advani also made pointed observations on persistent reports that there had been a shift in US attitudes after the exit of the Bush administration and the view that the 'road to Kabul lies through Kashmir' had gained traction. Again, Singh responded by saying that in his meetings with US president Barack Obama he had been categorically assured that there was no change in the US position. In this context, Advani said that the government's decision to delink talks from terror did not seem to make sense as it set aside a time-honoured negotiating position. 'What has happened for this to change?', asked Advani, demanding the government explain its back-channel negotiations. Sonia's role in controlling the treasury benches was evident when she encouraged Sriprakash Jaiswal to challenge Advani's claim that the government was contemplating a secret deal. She was less than enthusiastic over a National Conference MP's loud support for Jammu and Kashmir's pre-1953 status. The PM also took on Advani over the latter's claims that the ‘one-rank, one-pension' promise had not been fully implemented. 'It does not behove anyone to create a rift between the government and the Services,' the PM said. Singh insisted that the promise had been completely redeemed. Opening the discussion for BJP on motion of thanks to the President's address, Advani accused government of going back on its promise to implement the ‘one-rank, one-pension' policy for the armed forces. On Advani's point that former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf had claimed that he was close to an understanding on Jammu and Kashmir with India in 2007, Singh was sharp. 'You are using the forum of Parliament to sow the seeds of...' he said, leaving the retort incomplete. Singh was perhaps provoked by BJP leader's pointed charges raising doubts about the government's stand on the Kashmir issue. Advani claimed that US attitude to India in the context of cross-border terrorism had changed since President Obama had moved into the White House.