Wednesday, Jun 05, 2002
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By Atul Aneja
Not our impression: Brajesh
Asked to comment on Gen. Musharraf's observations, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Brajesh Mishra, who also addressed a press conference later, said that contrary to the impression created by the General, it was Mr. Putin who was expected to visit India in December this year.
"That is when the Prime Minister will be meeting the Russian President... There is no question of meeting Gen. Musharraf in Moscow or any other place (outside)."
Mr. Mishra clarified that the Prime Minister's talks with Mr. Putin revolved round developments in South Asia as well as bilateral issues.
Asked about the state of infiltration, Gen. Musharraf, contrary to the view held by India, said that "nothing was happening on the LoC.'' India, which had been alleging continuation of infiltration, was an "accuser and judge at the same time'' and did not have the credentials to take a definitive view on this subject. But when asked to comment on the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell's observations that infiltration across the LoC might still be persisting, he said that ``since the U.S. claims that it has independent methods (of verification), we trust its judgment.''
Gen. Musharraf said that he would welcome positioning of U.N.-sponsored international observers along the LoC in order to check infiltration. This view was, however, debunked by Mr. Mishra, who said that international observers were not suited for the purpose on account of the mountainous terrain that was best understood by the Indians and the Pakistanis.
Asked whether he would endorse free and fair internationally supervised elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Gen. Musharraf said the Kashmiris themselves had to take the decision on account of the transparency that the presence of foreign observers would provide. He, however, later qualified his remarks by stressing that Pakistan rejected elections in Kashmir under the Indian Constitution and favoured a plebiscite. He expressed the confidence that most Kashmiris would favour integration with Pakistan rather than opt for an "independent Kashmir.''
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