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Pak tangled up in truce, will delay response

Islamabad seems to be in a quandary over its response to New Delhi's 12-point peace proposal. On Sunday, the Pakistani leadership said it was agreeable to discussing ?softer issues?, but a day later it reverted to the old formula that a summit meeting between Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was the real way forward. The Pak leadership believes the latest proposals are specifically designed to revive air links between the two countries. Sources say it believes India is bleeding financially because of the ban on overflights.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2003 01:35 IST

Islamabad seems to be in a quandary over its response to New Delhi's 12-point peace proposal. On Sunday, the Pakistani leadership said it was agreeable to discussing “softer issues”, but a day later it reverted to the old formula that a summit meeting between Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf was the real way forward.

The Pak leadership believes the latest proposals are specifically designed to revive air links between the two countries. Sources say it believes India is bleeding financially because of the ban on overflights. India’s main concern, however, is gaining access to Afghanistan. To counter New Delhi’s initiative, Islamabad intends to make a set of proposals, including the restoration of rail links, which New Delhi has tied to the resumption of air links.

The indecision of the civilian leadership in Islamabad is evidenced by the fact that it has postponed its response to last week’s proposals at least twice. A leading Pakistani daily reported on Monday that Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar was scheduled to announce a reply. Islamabad said the response would be robust, though Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan refused to explain what that actually meant.

Instead, he said India’s proposals had not been made in good faith. “What kind of peace is this? On the one hand, India is making peace proposals and on the other it is killing innocent Kashmiris,” the Foreign Office spokesman said.Masood Khan also accused India of not responding to the peace proposals made by Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in May.

Jamali, meanwhile, said Pakistan was seriously pursuing a dialogue, but was prepared to face any eventuality. He said negotiations were the only permanent, viable and reasonable way to resolve disputes, in an apparent response to Defence Minister George Fernandes’s statement that if Islamabad did not accept India’s proposal, it should be ready to face war.

All tied up

Flight path:Islamabad will probably reject India’s proposals because it believes New Delhi is just trying to sneak in the resumption of air links

Final say:What the civilian leadership says is mostly rhetoric, hardline military leaders will have the last word

Destination:Pakistani observers say the new initiative won’t change the state of Indo-Pak relations

First Published: Oct 28, 2003 01:35 IST