Monday, Jun 30, 2003
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By B. Muralidhar Reddy
Aziz Ahmed Khan
Mr. Khan, an old India hand who had served as Deputy High Commissioner in the Pakistan mission in Delhi in the late Eighties, will take charge soon, amid expectations from the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, that vis-a-vis Kashmir India would show the kind of "flexibility" it has shown in the case of Tibet.
In an interview to a private Pakistani television channel in Los Angeles, where he is on a high-profile tour, Gen. Musharraf made it clear that while the first tentative steps towards peace have been taken, India and Pakistan have a long way to go in resolving of their differences.
``The flexibility India has shown on Tibet is a welcome sign. One can only hope it happens in the case of Kashmir too. At Agra Mr. Vajpayee and I had agreed that there could be no peace in the sub-continent without solution of Kashmir. I believe the Indian Prime Minister is a man of peace,'' he said in response to a specific question.
Asked about the comments made by the External Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha, that India does not subscribe to any "road map on Kashmir" from a third country, Gen. Musharraf said it had been the position of New Delhi.
"I have given my four-point formula of step-by-step approach. Till India and Pakistan are sincere in finding a solution to Kashmir, there could be no movement. Of course Kashmiris have to be involved in any eventual solution,'' he said.
The Pakistan mission would be seeing the return of the top diplomat after over a year.
The last High Commissioner, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, had to return to Islamabad in May 2002 after Delhi sought his recall on the ground of "parity". India had recalled its then High Commissioner, Vijay Nambiar, in the last week of December 2001 in the wake of the December 13 Parliament attack.
Mr. Khan, now camping in Lahore, is scheduled to cross over to India tomorrow morning through the Wagah border. From there, he would travel by road to New Delhi through Punjab and Haryana.
He would reach New Delhi late in the evening and take effective charge of the mission after presenting his credentials to the President, A.P.J. Kalam. No date for the formal ceremony has been fixed yet.
The Indian High Commissioner-designate to Pakistan and present Ambassador to China, Shivshankar Menon, is expected to reach here in the third week of next month. Mr. Menon is in the process of winding up his stay in Beijing and handing over charge to his successor.
He is expected to be here some time in the second week of July.
Diplomatic and political observers believe that the restoration of diplomatic contacts is expected to speed up the process of normalisation initiated after Mr. Vajpayee's peace initiative.
After taking over, Mr. Khan is expected to hold discussions with the Indian Government on the delays in the restoration of bus, air and rail links between the two countries.
Khan has vast contacts with Indian politicians, diplomats and the media.
He has also served as Director-General of the South Asia desk in the Foreign Office here and shot into prominence as Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan during the Taliban regime, during which he was the only foreign diplomat in Kabul.
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