Monday, Nov 24, 2003
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
In an address to the people of Pakistan on the occasion of the completion of one year of his Government, Mr. Jamali said that he expected India to respond positively to the ceasefire proposal. "Otherwise our move would remain incomplete," he said.
Significantly he also revived the proposals on a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad, capital of Pak-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and bus or train link between Sindh and Rajasthan and said that Pakistan was ready for discussions with India on them.
The ceasefire announcement made by Mr. Jamali assumes significance, as Pakistan is to host the SAARC Summit in the first week of January and has been urging the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to utilise the occasion for revival of the stalled Indo-Pakistan dialogue.
Since August Pakistan has mooted the ceasefire proposal twice but there is a difference in the manner it has been portrayed today and in the past. The proposal made by the President, Pervez Musharraf, was conditional and was subject to acceptance by India. New Delhi rejected it as a non-starter on the ground that it cannot let its guard on the LoC down when there is no let-up in infiltration. Mr. Jamali today seems to suggest that Pakistan would observe a ceasefire irrespective of the Indian position.
Mr. Jamali dwelt at length on the confidence building measures by India and Pakistan since the April peace initiative of Mr. Vajpayee and said that Pakistan had responded positively to India's proposals. He said it was not difficult for Pakistan as most of these proposals had already been presented by Islamabad.
He asked India to come forward to implement these proposals without attaching any conditionalities to them. Mr. Jamali said Pakistan looked forward to the participation of Mr. Vajpayee in the coming SAARC Summit and said it would open a new chapter of regional cooperation.
Mr. Jamali said Pakistan was ready for talks on the re-opening of the Khokhrapar-Monabao route that remained closed since the 1965 war. When India mooted the proposal in October Pakistan said that it could be discussed as part of the composite dialogue.
The Pakistan Premier said his country was willing to start a bus service between Muzaffarabad and Srinagar but made it clear that Jammu and Kashmir remained a disputed territory in accordance with the U.N. resolutions and the LoC was a temporary line dividing the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In response to the Indian proposal earlier Islamabad had said the service was possible only if U.N. personnel manned the check posts and people on either side were allowed to travel with U.N. documents.
Mr. Jamali invited India to initiate talks on the modalities and other related matters for starting the bus service and offered to host a meeting in this regard. To facilitate issuance of visas, the Prime Minister proposed that both Pakistani and Indian high commissions, after mutual agreement, should look into the possibilities of opening visa camps.
He said Pakistan was in favour of the resumption of air links between the two countries and negotiations between the two civil aviation authorities were extremely important. Mr. Jamali hoped that these negotiations would lead to the revival of air links between Lahore-Delhi, Karachi-Mumbai and Karachi-Delhi.
Mr. Jamali also re-floated Pakistan's proposal of reviving the Samjotha Express, saying, "we think that a decision in this regard should be reached by the end of this year". Similarly, he said, Pakistan was also ready for talks on starting a ferry service between Karachi and Mumbai.
He also proposed that the Interior Ministries of Pakistan and India should find ways to resolve the problems of prisoners jailed in each other's countries.
Indian response today
Amit Baruah reports from New Delhi:
A formal Indian response to Mr. Jamali's unilateral ceasefire offer is likely to come on Monday.
Highly-placed Government sources told The Hindu tonight that while Mr. Jamali's response to the Indian offer for new and enhanced transport links was positive, the ceasefire offer had to be seen in perspective. "We will come out with a formal response tomorrow," they said.
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