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"No role for third party in J&K issue"

Wednesday 22 June 2005

Special Correspondent

Violation of accord by Pakistan on Hurriyat visit: Manmohan

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rejected the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s assertion that the UPA Government had "mishandled" the visit of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Dr. Singh was responding to Mr. Vajpayee’s charge (in a letter dated June 15) that "the peace process with Pakistan has taken [a disturbing turn]." In his reply, the Prime Minister asserted that "it is our endeavour to take the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan forward while ensuring that India’s vital interests are fully safeguarded."

Dr. Singh’s letter dated June 20 was released by the BJP here.

Addressing himself to Mr. Vajpayee’s concern over the Hurriyat leaders’ visit, Dr. Singh put the visit in context: "You are aware of the fact that in the last four or five years, these leaders have regularly met Pakistani dignitaries visiting India, as well as Pakistani diplomats. In this background, our Government felt that their visit to Pakistan could not do any harm."

Dr. Singh stated that by inviting the Hurriyat leaders to visit Islamabad "Pakistan violated an understanding on these procedures that had been reached between India and Pakistan." He informed Mr. Vajpayee that "passports were issued to those Hurriyat leaders who did not possess Indian passports and [who] made a request for the issue of such documents."

Dr. Singh put on record the Government position on the Hurriyat claim [which was apparently endorsed by Pakistan] to be the "sole representative."

He wrote: "We have been consistently of the view that Jammu and Kashmir has a duly-elected Government which came into office after an election that was internationally held to be free and fair. We recognise that there are some groups that are outside the electoral process, and the All Party Hurriyat Conference is one among such groups in Jammu and Kashmir."

Reacting to the BJP charge that the Government had allowed the situation to "slip out of hand" and that some kind of a third-party intervention was round the corner, he wrote: "I would like to emphasise that there is no room in our discussion — or in our actions — for ambiguity regarding our position on Jammu and Kashmir. I have reiterated on every possible occasion that there can be no redrawing of boundaries. We have also ruled out any role for a third party — either through interventions or as guarantor of as mediations — in any form."

See online : The Hindu

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