Tuesday, Apr 09, 2002
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
``We have received the list but not the required evidence'', he told a media briefing here today while answering a question about Mr. Pant's comments. Mr. Pant had told Indian correspondents here on Sunday that the observations made by the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, in the course of his interview to The Hindu that the list of 20 was `rubbish' was not correct. He had said that New Delhi saw no point in the resumption of a dialogue unless Islamabad created conditions conducive for its success. He cited the lack of action on the list of 20 as an example to substantiate his point.
Maintaining that India has not provided any evidence, Mr. Khan reiterated Pakistan's desire for the resumption of a dialogue to de-escalate the situation at the borders.
On the reported statement by Pakistan Finance Minister, Shaukat Aziz, that he would hold bilateral talks with the Indian delegation during the SAARC Ministers conference on Poverty Alleviation, Mr. Khan said it was customary for the host Minister of any SAARC meeting to also hold bilateral talks with the visiting Ministers from member-States to discuss the matters relating to the event or otherwise.
In this context, Mr. Aziz's assertion wanting to invite Mr. Pant for a meeting was genuine, Mr. Khan said that "but if the Indian Minister was reading something else, I cannot comment on that''.
Mr. Pant and Mr. Aziz met during a dinner hosted by the Pakistan Finance Minister on Sunday night for the SAARC delegations. At the dinner, there was no occasion for an exchange of views on a one-on-one basis.
In response to a question on the "usefulness of the SAARC meets" without resolution of conflicts between the member-countries, Mr. Khan said that a climate of peace, security and tranquillity was the first pre-requisite for any regional cooperation to prosper and wanted India to withdraw its troops from the borders to restore peace in the region.
Accusing India of creating tensions, he said that "a climate of tension and uncertainty has increased in the area that obviously affects all fields. We would like these tensions to go down. We would like the troops to withdraw to peace-time locations so that not only a dangerous situation that is present at the borders gets de-escalated and removed but also regional peace and security are strengthened''.
Mr. Khan denied media reports that Osama Bin Laden escaped from an Al-Qaeda hideout in Pakistan town of Faisalabad, which was subsequently raided by a joint team of FBI and Pakistan commandos. He denied reports that the FBI opened an office in Pakistan. "There is no independent office of the FBI in Pakistan'', he said and maintained that Pakistan only cooperated with the FBI in the investigations.
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