Cross-border terrorism was linked to Kashmir
21 July 2001
B. Muralidhar Reddy
Islamabad: The Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has claimed that India had agreed at the Agra summit to the ''centrality of Kashmir'' as the main cause that has bedevilled relations between India and Pakistan. A senior Indian diplomat, who was privy to the parleys between the two sides at Agra told The Hindu that while Gen. Musharraf''s claim was not incorrect, the Indian acceptance of Kashmir as an issue was part of a carefully-worded formulation that linked it to the concern over ''cross-border terrorism''. At his televised news conference on Friday, Gen. Musharraf claimed that a table and two chairs were ready at the local hotel for the signing-in ceremony of the joint declaration and both sides had agreed on at least two separate drafts of the declaration. ''Do you think I would have agreed to have any declaration or statement if the centrality of the Kashmir issue was not agreed upon by India?'' Gen. Musharraf shot back when a reporter wanted to know if the agreed draft declaration had acknowledged Kashmir as the core issue of tension between India and Pakistan. At one stage in the course of the two-hour press conference, Gen. Musharraf said at no point of time in Agra did Pakistan give up its ''principled position'' on Kashmir. ''Honestly I have no idea about the reasons and circumstances under which the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, could not agree to the mutually-agreed draft declaration. I must say that Mr. Vajpayee was sincere and open-minded in his approach towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. I am optimistic that Mr. Vajpayee wants the process to continue and we would hopefully arrive at a mutually-acceptable solution.'' The diplomat contested Gen. Musharraf''s claim that both the sides had twice arrived at an agreement. ''Leave alone twice, there was no agreement even once. If there was a mutually- accepted draft why would we have not gone ahead and signed it?'' he asked. It appears that the confusion on the so-called two agreed drafts arose because the Pakistani side tried to sidestep normal resolution procedures. ''When recognised and sought to be corrected, there were insinuations that hidden hands were coming in the way of an agreement''.