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Overshadowed by Indo-Pak meets, SAARC takes backseat

Regional issues, SAARC's raison d'etre have been overshadowed by meetings between Indo-Pak leaders.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2004 22:02 IST

The SAARC Summit on Monday took a backseat, completely overshadowed by the India-Pakistan meetings at the top level aimed at furthering the peace initiatives taken by the two countries.

At briefings by both Indian and Pakistani sides, journalists from all over the world seemed just not interested in what was happening in the ongoing summit and focussed only on interactions between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali.

Interestingly, both Indian and Pakistani Foreign Offices had similar lines on the Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting saying that the recent confidence-building measures taken by the two countries had a positive impact and hoped that the peace process would continue.

There was a volley of questions on whether there was any meeting between National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence chiefLieutenantGeneralEhsanul Haque.

Leaders attending the Summit, which opened yesterday, went for a retreat at Jamali's official residence here today but again queries from journalists were with regard to what transpired between the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers.

Right from the time Vajpayee arrived here on January 3, Pakistani electronic and print media have been agog with headlines speculating as to whether there would be any meeting between Vajpayee and Musharraf and the nature of such interaction.

Leaders of member states have gone on record saying that the Summit has assumed a fresh vigour owing to the thaw in Indo-Pak ties.

The three-day Summit ends tomorrow after a concluding ceremony which would be attended by leaders of the seven states including Vajpayee and Jamali, who has assumed chairmanship of the grouping till the next Summit in Dhaka in Janaury 2005.

Jamali is also scheduled to address the media after the Summit ends.

The Summit has been held in the midst of unprecendented security in the wake of recent assassination attempts on the Pakistani President.

Vajpayee, who came to Islamabad after 26 years, is scheduled to fly home tomorrow. The Prime Minister had visited this city in 1978 as External Affairs Minister in the Morarji Desai Government.

First Published: Jan 05, 2004 22:02 IST