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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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Pak. Govt. to adopt 'wait and watch' policy

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD, JULY 30. The military Government in Pakistan has decided to adopt a `wait and watch' approach to the spate of statements from the ruling establishment in New Delhi on the outcome of the Agra Summit.

A senior official of the Musharraf Government told The Hindu that ``we have taken a conscious decision not to join issue with senior functionaries of the BJP on the Agra Summit. We believe the aim of Agra Summit was to move towards normalisation of ties between the two countries and we want the process to continue.''

The assessment of the military Government is that the ``conflicting and contradictory'' statements from senior Ministers of the BJP-led Government on the Agra Summit is a reflection of the ``battle'' between hardliners and moderates within the party.

``We do not want to do or say anything that could only strengthen the hands of the hardcore elements in the BJP and undermine the initiatives of the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the senior official said.

It is indeed unusual for the Musharraf Government not to react to the spate of resolutions adopted first by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and later by the national executive of the BJP.

``The temptation is very much there but we think it would not serve any purpose. It would only jeopardise the whole process set in motion at Agra. Notwithstanding the failure at Agra to arrive at even a Joint Statement, leave a Joint Declaration, we believe that the summit did achieve in breaking the ice. We want to move on from there,'' the official said.

He also sought to contest the impression created by several functionaries in the NDA and the BJP and a section of the Indian media that Gen. Musharraf had walked away with `victory' at Agra. ``Whatever be the assessment of at least some of the senior functionaries in the BJP, we do not subscribe to the view that the Pakistan President was out there to score points with an eye on the domestic constituency. Believe us or not, Gen. Musharraf was his natural self,'' he contended.

Pakistan believes that if the Agra process is to be carried forward and the expected meeting between Gen. Musharraf and Mr. Vajpayee on the sidelines of New York is to be meaningful, the External Affairs Minister, Mr. Jaswant Singh, should visit Islamabad before the United Nations General Assembly session in the last week of September.

Islamabad is also of the view that if the `hard-liners' in India continue with their diatribe against the Agra summit, it could only strengthen their counterparts in Pakistan.

In a related development, the chief of Pakistan's Jamaat-e- Islami, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, has said that his party supported operations by jehadi groups in Jammu and Kashmir. ``When the Indian leaders consider Kashmir as their inseparable part, do not budge from their stand, continue occupation of Kashmir forcibly and do not stop atrocities against the unarmed citizens of Kashmir, then no result could be achieved through holding of talks with such leaders on Kashmir problem,'' he told the Voice of America in an interview.

Asked what he meant by waging jehad, the Qazi said, ``We think that jehad means establishment of justice, end of tyranny, slavery and mischief. When people start this kind of jehad, we support it. People of all the religions in the world and all secular powers of the world admit this fact that if any nation is subjected to oppression then this nation is bound to put up stiff resistance to get their rights.

``In the meantime, the world people are required to come to the succour of the oppressed nation. I think that the jehad launched by Kashmir is their logical stand. Jehad is the only way out for getting their rights.''

Referring to the Agra summit, he said, ``In my opinion, the summit meeting has proved a failure and I think that there is no use of continuation of talks following the stubborn stand of India. First of all, India should realise that Kashmir is disputed territory and the Indian leaders should admit this fact and should announce that they want to see its solution.''

About the prospects of future India- Pak. talks on Kashmir, he said if the Indian leaders were willing to hold talks on Kashmir, then some kind of progress may be achieved. But if they were still adamant that Kashmir was integral part of India, then there was no need for holding the talks.

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