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The Pakistani MP, Sardar Saleem (third from right) and other legislators entering Pakistan at the Wagah border on Saturday. AFP
No significant headway can be made in any talks unless Kashmir was discussed, the leader of the 12-member delegation, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, said before the group crossed the Radcliffe line into Pakistan here. One of them left by air.
Talking to reporters before crossing over, he claimed that steps taken by the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, to check cross-border terrorism were ``sufficient.'' He commended Gen. Musharraf for his ``boldness'' in ``initiating'' the peace process.
Asked about the visit, Mr. Khakwani said it was a success. ``I exchanged views with Indian MPs, including Opposition members, who warmly reciprocated our feelings and concerns, besides assuring us that they would prevail upon the Indian Government to make a head start in the peace process, so that people of both the countries can exchange visits frequently.''
Mr. Khakwani said he expected ``significant dialogue on logical issues'' between India and Pakistan as both sides would be keen to avoid anything that could scuttle the peace initiatives as had happened in Agra.
He said he was heartened by the National Congress Party leader, Sharad Pawar's decision to lead a delegation of MPs to Pakistan as a reciprocatory gesture.
Begum Shahnaz Sheikh, a member of the delegation, said it had met several bureaucrats, diplomats and prominent social workers, besides heads of various political parties who were keen on holding talks.
``There are hundreds of people in each country who have close relatives living on the other side, but the strained relations between the two nations is preventing them from visiting their near ones,'' she said.
Sheikh's daughter Amina, who had accompanied the delegation, said she was ``overwhelmed'' by the response of the Indian masses and the warm welcome accorded to them. ``I hardly found any difference in the masses of the two countries. They even have the same culture and lifestyle. I will really miss the Indian people after crossing the Radcliffe,'' she said.
Advocating the early return of the exiled former Prime Ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Shariff, the Opposition National Assembly member, Shakeela Khanam Rasheed, said their return would create a congenial atmosphere, both at home and between the two nations. PTI
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