Thursday, Jul 11, 2002
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By Our Diplomatic Correspondent
The identification of Harsh Bhasin was made public on June 10 when India formally lifted its ban on Pakistani civilian aircraft using Indian air space. The Foreign Office spokeswoman said today that to the ``best of her knowledge'' Islamabad had not been approached with a formal proposal to post Mr. Bhasin as High Commissioner.
Asked if there was any time-frame to seek a formal agreement, the spokeswoman said: ``I don't believe we operate on time-frames. We operate on the basis of how the situation develops and the satisfaction that should be provided by Pakistan in regard to ending infiltration and putting an end to its support of terrorism''.
The spokeswoman said whatever measures India took and whatever responses India came up with in relation to the ``evolving situation'' would be determined by Pakistan's capacity to deliver on its pledges to end infiltration and terrorism.
Asked to respond to the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell's reported remarks that India and Pakistan must resume dialogue, she reiterated that New Delhi's point of view was well known. ``Dialogue with Pakistan can be resumed only when there is a climate conducive to the resumption of a dialogue and that climate can be created only when Pakistan ends infiltration, puts a stop to terrorism and support to terrorism.... period.'' When asked if there had been any improvement in the situation after the Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf's May 27 speech, she said a 30 per cent fall in infiltration for a ``few weeks'' was not reason enough for resumption of dialogue.
The spokeswoman clarified that this 30 per cent fall was a temporary phase and again, in the last week of June, three infiltration attempts were interdicted and terrorists killed. ``So, where is the climate, where is the atmosphere for resumption of dialogue. It doesn't exist. On the contrary, the interviews given by the President of Pakistan.... they all seem to suggest that Pakistan was not prepared to implements its commitments (to end terrorism)....''
Referring to reports that Mr. Powell would be visiting India, the spokeswoman said that his visit could be around the end of the month before he travels to attend the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meetings in Brunei. On the timing of the visit, the spokeswoman said that such visits were worked out through mutual discussions and consent. With the United States, India had continuing contact and such contacts had increased in the post-September 11 context. ``It has been a useful interaction.... and has been of benefit to both countries.''
On the agenda for the Powell visit, she said the situation in the region would naturally come under discussion. India's perspective on the regional situation would be conveyed to the U.S. Secretary of State.
The spokeswoman stated that David Manning, visiting foreign policy advisor to the British Prime Minister, called on the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, this morning. Sir David, she said, also held talks with the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Brajesh Mishra. It was conveyed to Sir David that Pakistan must take visible, permanent action to end support to terrorism.
In another development, India has released $10 million as budgetary support to Afghanistan yesterday as part of the $100 million package announced by the Prime Minister.
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