Pak trying to whip up emotions on Kashmir
20 June 2001
The Asian Age
New Delhi: India is viewing statements from Pakistan in the run-up to the July summit as an attempt by Islamabad to unilaterally set the agenda for talks. There is a feeling in New Delhi that Pakistan had resorted to the old ploy of whipping up emotions on Kashmir. But there is a sense of optimism that the situation will not remain the same when the two leaders meet in Agra. Well informed sources said Pakistan foreign minister Abdus Sattar’s statements from May 24 to June 14 indicate Islamabad’s negative attitude about the talks. Chief Executive and President Pervez Musharraf, Mr Sattar and the Pakistan foreign office have projected Kashmir as the core issue between India and Pakistan. New Delhi has objected to the euphemisms being used by the Pakistani establishment on Kashmir. Sources said it reflected “rigidity of approach and a negative attitude.” India has agreed that the greater focus of talks would be on Jammu and Kashmir but it does not see Indo- Pakistan relations through the prism of a single issue. Sources said if Islamabad continued to press on the single issue of Kashmir then the talks could be a non-starter and would be like “running against the wall.” New Delhi wants to discuss the entire gamut of issues with Pakistan, including Kashmir. But New Delhi is not prepared to abandon its principles on the status of the state. India does not want to give the impression that its open mind on the issue is an indication of softness. Sources said the political and economic situation in Pakistan had left Gen. Musharraf no other option but to talk to India. Gen. Musharraf’s sudden decision to become President was expected, but officials were surprised by the timing. The move is being interpreted as the Army’s desire for a constitutional role in Pakistan’s political structure, a question being addressed by Islamabad. It also shows Gen. Musharraf is now beginning to take steps to put in place the system he has in mind. From the restoration of democracy in Pakistan to October 12, 1999, the Pakistan Army has been in the background. Sources said that dealing with a three-in-one authority will probably simplify the issue. Talks with Gen. Musharraf, a President, a Chief Executive Officer and Chief of Army Staff, are likely to be helpful.