January 2001 News

My CEO ready for Delhi: Sattar

5 January 2001
The Asian Age

New Delhi: Chief Executive of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf is 'absolutely ready ' to visit India for a meeting with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to take the peace process on Kashmir forward. He will be 'happy' to have a dialogue with Mr Vajpayee 'any time, anywhere, any place.'This was stated categorically by Pakistan foreign minister Abdus Sattar in an interview from Islamabad with the Asian Age on Friday. Mr Sattar made it very clear that Pakistan had no objections at all to a dialogue 'at the highest level' as stated by Mr Vajpayee in his recently published article, pointing out that this acceptance had been Gen Musharraf on a number of occasions. Mr Sattar said Pakistan would not be averse to a foreign secretary-level meeting provided this was a preparatory to a higher political level dialogue. He said it was essential to get away from 'bureaucratic skirmishing' and official tangles by making the peace process free from these shackles. 'The need is to go to the core of the issue to find a solution to the Kashmir problem and, if the heads of government agree to meet, then officials can have preparatory discussions beforehand,' he said. Pakistan's National Security Council had met at Islamabad on Thursday to take stock of the situation. Mr Sattar admitted that most of the time were spent in an appraisal of Prime Minister's vision statement and the proposed visit of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference later this month. He said Mr Vajpayee's article was seen as very positive and 'we were encouraged to see that he places Kashmir as number one priority for settlement in India's own interests.' Mr Sattar said that NSC meeting was marked by a 'sence of expectation and promise that finally we might be moving in the direction of a constructive dialogue'. He again reitetated that ' we in Pakistan are very imptessed by Mr Vajpayee's positive tone and vision statement. And we are hopeful that a leader of his maturity and experience will follow up the diagnosis of the problem with a resolution of this 53-year-old issue.' Asked if Pakistan would rein in the jihadi groups to create the necessary atmosphere for the dialogue, Mr Sattar immediately pointed out that this was not mentioned in the Prime Minister's article, which has been the only authoritative indication of India's policy on Kashmir in recent months. He said Mr Vajpayee had only spoken of the need of creating a 'condusive environment', pointing out, 'These are not the words you are using'. The Pakistani foreign minister said he was aware of the 'other articulation', which was accusatory in tone and tended to blame Pakistan for all events in Kashmir, and being escapist and diversionary in nature tended to forget that it was a movement led by and indigenous to Kashmiris'. Mr Sattar said Mr Vajpayee had used an entirely different phrase and both India and Pakistan had contributed to this condusive atmosphere. He was not willing to say a word about the United Jihad Coucil consisting of groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and the Hizbul Mujahideen. Asked if the five member team reportedly set up by the Jihad Council was ready for a dialogue with the APHC delegation, Mr Sattar insisted he had 'no idea' about their activities. On the other hand, he was well versed with the Hurriyat executive committee resolutions expressing the hope that the government of India would issue them the necessary travel documents to visit Pakistan for talks.


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