April 1999 News

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Sharif fears derail of normalisation process

25th April 1999
Daily Excelsior

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Premier Nawaz Sharif has cast doubts over implementation of the Lahore agreement signed with Indian Premier A B Vajpayee recently and expressed fears that the political deadlock in India could derail the normalisation process heralded by the historic accord.

The prolonged continuous political deadlock in New Delhi is turning out to be an impediment in making fast progress towards the peace process, Sharif, who signed the accord despite opposition from hard liners at home, told newsmen in his home town of Lahore yesterday.

He also conceded that there was much uncertainty over the implementation of the Lahore declaration signed with Vajpayee in February following the fall of the BJP-led Government in New Delhi. Besides, the Government was at a total loss on whom to approach for further negotiations, he said.

Though we signed the Lahore declaration for promoting ties between the two countries, I require a stable Government in India to implement the agreement in letter and spirit, he said. Both sides were to resume Foreign Secretary level talks next month on a host of bilateral issues, including Kashmir.

The talks have now been put off.

The Pakistani Premier hinted that there was total confusion in New Delhi due to ongoing political developments there. It is difficult to ascertain who should be approached for negotiations until a stable Government assumes office in India.

Sharif, who returned from a historic Moscow visit on Wednesday after talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other Russian leaders, said it is high time for India and Pakistan to resolve all their disputes since the atmosphere is conducive for it.

Pakistan wants a stable Government in India that could be able to take bold initiatives. We are ready to take initiatives, but if there is no stable Government in India to respond, there is going to be no real progress so far as the peace process is concerned, Sharif said.

Sharif said he had requested Russia to mediate between the two neighbours and expressed the hope that Moscow would change its earlier stand on the Kashmir issue, in an apparent reference to Russia’s use of its Veto power in the UN Security Council to block any moves against India.

At a time Russia had used its Veto power to favour India, but new developments will help changing the outlook of Russia’s diplomatic approach vis-a-vis differences between Pakistan and India, Sharif claimed, attributing this to Pakistan’s newly-acquired nuclear status.

I feel the important position Pakistan has gained in the region has constrained Russia to review its policy regarding its role in South Asia...If Russia helps in resolving long-standing differences between India and Pakistan, I think it would be a great initiative on its part, he said. (PTI)

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