Date:16/04/2005 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2005/04/16/stories/2005041612531400.htm
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Peace process will not come to a wall: Brajesh

Diplomatic Correspondent

Too early to talk of a settlement to Kashmir issue

NEW DELHI: The Pakistani "give" on trade will create a conducive atmosphere for "compromise" with India, the former National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra, said on BBC World's Hardtalk India programme on Friday night.

"I personally think this peace process, although it will encounter bumps on the road, will continue. It will not come to a wall and it will not stop ... And if it continues in the way it is going and if there is some give on the part of Pakistan in regard to trade and economic cooperation between the two countries [then] in my view there will be the beginning of a conducive atmosphere for compromise," he said.

Mr. Mishra also felt that it was "too early" to talk about a settlement of the Kashmir dispute. "The atmosphere today is not yet conducive for compromises on both sides. In my view Gen. Musharraf should not insist on quick solutions to the Kashmir problem because it is not going to happen. I am pretty sure that if tomorrow he sits down and talks about a solution with Dr. Manmohan Singh there is going to be no solution ... "

Speaking about the Agra Summit of 2001, which he admitted "failed very badly", Mr. Mishra revealed that he had not been consulted when the decision to invite Gen. Musharraf was taken. "Frankly, I was not involved in the decision to invite him. The decision was taken at the political level. I was not consulted ... but I would have had reservations about it," an advance transcript of the interview said.

Back channel

Mr. Mishra, who was Vajpayee's Principal Secretary, also spoke of the seven-month-long "back channel" contacts he maintained with his Pakistani counterpart, Tariq Aziz. "Those discussions were extremely critical and, in fact, without them the January 6 statement of last year would not have come about. We had three meetings outside India and Pakistan and in those three meetings we were able to hammer out the differences on how to proceed to initiate or re-initiate the composite dialogue ... the critical period was when I went to Islamabad, two days in advance of the SAARC Summit, and had four or five rounds with Tariq Aziz to hammer out the statement of January 6, 2004.

" ... He [Musharraf] made a commitment in writing on not permitting terrorism from Pakistani-controlled territory in any manner. Now this is a commitment given by a head of state to a head of government from India and I think we should take it seriously. We took it seriously at that time... It was not a question of trust or distrust. It was a question of assessing what were his compulsions. He desperately needed a joint statement when we were in Islamabad. And he made it very clear. We were prepared to come away without a statement. Having gone there for a SAARC summit, having made our contribution there, we were quite satisfied. We could have come back without a statement. But he was extremely keen to have a joint statement with Prime Minister Vajpayee which he could not get in Agra."

Agreeing with the view of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that India could do business with Gen. Musharraf, Mr. Mishra added that it was important for India to be "cold and calculating" and insisted "there should be no sentiments involved in these matters"

Mr. Mishra also revealed that he had suggested then to Mr. Vajpayee the timing of India's nuclear tests that took place on May 11 and 13, 1998. "As soon as Mr. Vajpayee became Prime Minister on March 19, 1998 we began to discuss the undertaking of the nuclear test and, of course, the scientists also came to us. Dr. Kalam, the present President, being one of them ... and we had a thorough discussion and after that it was my advice to Prime Minister Vajpayee that the sooner we did it the better it was. To get it over with."

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