Pakistan terrorism trap in grey area between LoC & border
Delhi hurls Agra draft into dustbin
Mountain goes to Musharraf
From Atal admirer to Agra martyr
Breakfast spoiled Vajpayee appetite
Flushout to save Hirakud
Calcutta Weather

Washington, July 18: 
The summit between India and Pakistan collapsed on Monday because both sides had too much knowledge of what the other side was thinking, according to information pieced together from the rubble in Agra.

The “centrality” of the Kashmir dispute was not the only issue on which the draft of the Agra declaration became unacceptable to India.

During the protracted discussions on the draft, the Pakistanis wanted terrorism and drug trafficking to be clubbed together as a single issue with a common machinery for its resolution.

The Indian delegation quickly saw through Islamabad’s game. At the proposed forum to address this problem, the Pakistanis could tell the Indians later — if their agenda on Kashmir could not be realised — that all they had agreed to discuss was narco-terrorism.

As the negotiations progressed, the Pakistanis relented because they saw that the Indian side was unwilling to give an inch on the issue of terrorism.

They agreed to use the term “cross-border terrorism” in the final draft. But within the Indian delegation, memories of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s gradual withdrawal from the secret clauses of the Simla Agreement were still strong.

Indeed, based on inside information of the thinking on the Pakistani side, the Indian drafters convinced their political leadership that the final draft was a ruse by Pervez Musharraf to later quibble on the text of the declaration.

If the improvement in bilateral relations did not meet the expectations of the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi or if Kashmir did not fall into Pakistan’s lap like a ripe apple after the rapprochement with India, the Pakistanis would argue that they never agreed to talk about terrorism along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.

The reference in the Agra declaration would have been to cross-border terrorism. And the LoC is not an international border: it is precisely what it is called — a ceasefire line which was converted into an LoC in Simla.

In South Block, the Indian drafters were today patting themselves on their backs for having saved Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from a “diplomatic Kargil” in the months ahead.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Abdul Sattar had actually let the cat out of the bag. He had said on record yesterday what the Indian officials had warned their ministers about and described as Pakistan’s formula for deceit.

Sattar was asked at his news conference in Islamabad if there were differences between India and Pakistan on “cross-border terrorism” which came in the way of agreeing on a joint statement.

Sattar replied: “Now you have used a term ‘cross-border’. This a matter that relates to the border between Pakistan and India. If there are any concerns on the other side with regard to terrorism across the border, surely this matter can be raised in future meetings”.

He continued: “As you know, in Jammu and Kashmir, there is no international border, but a Line of Control. No reference has been made to any cross-LoC terrorism in the course of the draft of the declaration.”

The Indian drafters forcefully argued during their delegation’s intense discussions that if the level of violence in Kashmir went up after Musharraf’s handshake with Vajpayee and India protested, Sattar would simply wash his hands of the problem.

He would tell external affairs minister Jaswant Singh that what was happening in Kashmir was a freedom struggle over which Pakistan had no control.

Once again, Sattar showed Pakistan’s true colours after Musharraf was back on home soil. He said: “The government of India has from time to time alleged violations of the LoC by individuals from the Pakistan side. The government of Pakistan has on each and every occasion explained that the government of Pakistan respects the LoC and does not in any way encourage or sponsor any violation of that line.”

He went on: “I would like to add that this allegation is perceived by us as an attempt to divert attention from the indigenous nature of the freedom struggle in Kashmir.”


New Delhi, July 18: 
Yesterday’s sober tone was today replaced by harsh words as India rejected Pakistan’s suggestion of picking up the threads from the draft in Agra, asserting that the two countries will have to “begin again” when they meet next.

Delhi said that future talks with Pakistan should be based on the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration and not on the failed draft joint declaration, which, India insisted, should not be seen as an agreement.

The plain-speak is an attempt by the government to draw the line and let Pakistan know what to expect and what not to at their next meeting. The leadership is also preparing for questions that are likely to be raised in Parliament which sits on Monday.

“It is disappointing that no closure was reached on the text of the agreement,” foreign ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao said. “We will, therefore, have to begin again on the basis of the existing agreements, the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.”

However, Pakistan’s attempts at playing down the importance of the LoC have raised South Block’s hackles. Pakistan’s foreign minister Abdul Sattar had argued yesterday that since the LoC was not a formal border between the two sides, cross-border would mean areas along the international boundaries of India and Pakistan. Sattar’s contention is that there is no terrorism along the international borders.

The statement is being seen here as an assurance to hardliners in Pakistan that Islamabad was not compromising on the struggle in Kashmir. It is also an attempt at diluting the LoC, which Musharraf had tried to alter during the Kargil intrusion and had recently described as the “problem and not the solution” of the Kashmir issue.

“I am astonished at this technicality being used by Pakistan. We know very well that Pakistan understands perfectly what is meant by cross-border terrorism, which is inclusive of encouraging and abetting infiltration and terrorism across the Line of Control,” Rao asserted.

Sattar had, in his wrap-up remarks yesterday, said that the draft declaration would serve as a “valuable foundation” for the two leaders to reach a “full agreement” at a future meeting. Sattar had also listed the issues which had already been agreed upon by the two sides in their draft.

Rao, however, said that not only was India displeased at this “breach of confidentiality”, it was also in no mood to accept parts of the Agra draft as agreed points. Unless, she said, there was “closure and subscription by signature, there is no agreement”.

Rao reacted sharply to Pakistan’s justification of Musharraf’s meeting with Indian editors on Monday. “If the logic of media conducting negotiations simultaneously is to be accepted, then I’m afraid international and bilateral discussions could very well be held in an amphitheatre with the media present.”


New Delhi, July 18: 
If he wasn’t allowed to hold it in Agra, he would organise it in his backyard, Islamabad.

General Pervez Musharraf is in love with the “free” voice of the Indian media, a taste for which he developed at the bombshell breakfast with editors in Agra.

So, before Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee takes the plane for the Pakistan capital on Musharraf’s invitation, the Indian media is heading out to attend a news conference the general will hold on Friday.

Buoyed by the impact on the home audience of the live telecast by government-controlled Pakistan TV of Monday morning’s breakfast meeting, Musharraf has invited Indian journalists to the news conference, offering visas that are otherwise so difficult to get.

After giving his hosts in India a black eye in the publicity punch-up at Agra — where in an ironic twist he used the freedom this country’s media enjoys to put across his views while exerting tight control at home — Musharraf has taken one step farther, as much without precedent as the “live” breakfast meeting.

The press meet, it is believed, will be different from the explosion of anger the Pakistan media was expecting on Monday on his return from Agra. PTV had said Musharraf would speak immediately on getting back. That did not happen, nor did the blast. Instead, foreign minister Abdul Sattar set the tone, calling the summit anything but a failure.

Not carrying any documented baggage from Agra, Musharraf will be free to interpret the outcome of the summit as he pleases.

The official line in Islamabad is that the talks were not only not a failure but ended in bringing the two sides closer with agreement on a number of issues to be discussed in the future.

“We have agreed to discuss the concerns of both sides,” a senior Pakistani diplomat said.

“We did have some differences on the wordings of one issue, otherwise we have agreed on a number of points,” he added. He would not disclose what the issue was, though it is generally believed it was Kashmir.

Amid media reports of his soaring popularity graph, a result of the breakfast bluster, Musharraf today briefed the national security council and the Cabinet on his Agra talks.

Sources in Pakistan’s foreign ministry said they had been able to bring the Jammu and Kashmir issue up to number one from its second place in the Lahore declaration. That this stillborn document has no official value is a conclusion these sources are countering with the argument that it would be helpful in future discussions.

The sources said foreign minister-level discussions would soon be held. “Let the dust settle,” one source said, “and I assure you it would not be too long before we would be resuming the talks.”


New Delhi, July 18: 
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s loyalist in the run-up to the Agra summit, Professor M.L. Sondhi, has been sacked as chairman of the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research.

But Sondhi has gone down fighting, alleging that the “man with a world vision for India” (Vajpayee) is the victim of a “royal betrayal”.

This afternoon, an indignant Sondhi alleged — directly taking their names — that L.K. Advani, Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Sushma Swaraj conspired to derail the Agra summit. He was speaking at a public discussion on “The Vajpayee-Musharraf Summit: A Preliminary Assessment” convened by him as the ICSSR chairman at the India International Centre this afternoon. “Heads must roll,” he thundered without knowing at the time that his would be the first.

A long-time Vajpayee confidant, Sondhi would have been senior in the BJP hierarchy to Murli Manohar Joshi — the minister to whom he technically reported — had he not withdrawn from active politics after serving a stint as a Jan Sangh MP from Delhi in the early seventies. Last year, he was handpicked by Vajpayee — who overrode the Union human resources development ministry — to head the ICSSR.

Sondhi’s place will be taken by K.L. Sharma, a sociologist from the Jawaharlal Nehru University faculty in the School of Social Sciences.

In the fortnight before the summit, Sondhi organised a two-day Indo-Pak meeting of academics with the blessings of Vajpayee. The recommendations of that meeting were presented to both Vajpayee and Musharraf. Vajpayee had also got the home ministry to waive an order that made special permission for intellectuals attending seminars on “sensitive subjects” in India mandatory. It was Vajpayee’s wish that a Muslim woman inaugurate the meeting on intellectuals — Sondhi himself said so — and Najma Heptullah was asked to do the honours. The ICSSR, that used to be starved of funds till recently, spent Rs 16 lakh on its summit preparations.

Sondhi referred to the conspirators obliquely. How could the person responsible for “UTI-gate be included in the delegation (in Agra)” — a reference to finance minister Yashwant Sinha.

“What business does the person in charge of song and drama division have to wreck the summit.... why was a trespasser allowed in?” — a reference to information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj whose briefing on the first day was apparently used by the Pakistani delegation to up its ante.

“No infrastructural support was provided to Vajpayee from within South Block, from the home ministry, from the MEA whose job it was to update the media.”

“It was a systemic failure,” charged Sondhi. “And the guilty are now trying to blame Vajpayee. How could they go and demolish the house (near Neharwali Haveli in which two orphans lived)? Is this not sabotage?” Sondhi went on, unmindful of the use of unparliamentary phrases.

“People who say the summit has failed are insane. This summit shows Atal Bihari Vajpayee as a masterly statesman. He is absolutely triumphant. He is open, he is direct, he is frank. I think there were Indian spoilers in the game and there were Pakistani spoilers. Vajpayee has shown how to do diplomacy in the 21st century. Look around the world around you today, and show me who is a match for Atal Bihari Vajpayee — a smiling Tony Blair? I challenge anyone to show somebody who can match him — Nehru? Shastri? Indira? Rajiv? I.K. Gujral? — none of them is a patch on Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He has given India a world vision and yet editorials are being written that the BJP has succeeded but Agra has failed.”

Sondhi was practically shouting in a small room packed with listeners. The meeting was organised by Sondhi to show up the “positive achievements” of Agra. If it, rather crassly, also turned out to be a damage-control exercise for Vajpayee, Sondhi did not care. He invited questions from the press. But when he was asked, he fobbed, evaded, even intimidated questioners, and accused a journalist of “hectoring” him. “You must be a JNU student,” he told the questioner, using the name of the university as a synonym for the Left.

“This summit led Mr Vajpayee to create negotiation space. This approach allows us to go ahead on any issue. We are not saying that we have accepted the Pakistani agenda. We do not need valour, we need sense. We don’t need Rajasthani (meaning warrior-like) style of diplomacy any more. Are his (Vajpayee’s) countrymen now going to betray him? If there was any failing, it was at the administrative level. The MEA was responsible. Most of the officials sent to Agra were busy with their own transfers to Burma or Malaysia or some place....

“The summit has shown that we have in Musharraf a man who can sell the Pakistan army certain answers. We have a Pakistan foreign minister (Abdul Sattar) who has been high commissioner to India. He is a hawk.... You cannot do without the Vajpayee Vision today. Do you know of the kind of possibilities there were if only this Kashmir thing was tackled? Something like a subcontinental defence force was also in the realm of possibility. I am sorry I have to speak out like this but I speak out of anguish,” Sondhi could barely stop himself.

Sondhi’s proximity to Vajpayee is no secret. He was close to Vajpayee since their time together in the Jan Sangh. Both have shared interests in international relations.

Sondhi had also qualified in the civil services examination with flying colours and was selected for the Indian Foreign Service. He gave up the idea and joined the Indian Council of World Affairs, then an autonomous body partly funded by the government in the School of International Studies.

The institutions later became part of JNU and Sondhi a rather outspoken member of the JNU faculty.


New Delhi, July 18: 
Pervez Musharraf’s breakfast Tehelka on Indian editors was the last straw for an Atal Bihari Vajpayee already scalded by the Pakistan President’s Hurriyat tea party.

The disclosure was made at a damage-control exercise kicked off by Vajpayee at a meeting of the coalition partners, according to highly-placed sources.

Vajpayee’s case: Preparations were done in right earnest for the summit. An agreement could not be signed because of the Pakistan President’s “intransigent” stand on the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration, the centrality of the Kashmir issue, cross-border terrorism, the tea party and the televised breakfast interaction with Indian editors.

“People can talk but the live telecast hurt us deeply because he raised so many controversial issues like Bangladesh, Kargil, freedom struggle and so on. The government did not even know of the telecast but when it was brought to our notice, we felt that it would make no difference if there was no statement,” he told allies.

Both Vajpayee and L.K. Advani indicated that the government was “bitter” about the Hurriyat tea party that went beyond a “social gathering”.

Vajpayee shared with the allies information on Musharraf’s pre-departure “courtesy call” which stretched to almost 90 minutes. The Pakistan President reportedly urged him to issue some kind of a joint statement.

“He told the Prime Minister that ‘for you, Kashmir is taboo’. To which the Prime Minster replied that ‘if we focus on Kashmir, we will have to go back to the treaty of accession’. Musharraf said there was no point in discussing the past, but Vajpayee made it clear that ‘if you want a discussion on Kashmir you will have to go back to Partition’,” said a source.

Vajpayee is also believed to have conveyed his unhappiness at the breakfast show. “We fought Kargil and you were the army chief then. Even after that, I had the courage to invite you because I want peace. And you talked of the Bangladesh war.”

Vajpayee, the sources said, told the allies that the process of drafting an agreement had begun on July 15 night.

The Indians felt that the Agra agreement should take the eight issues enshrined in the Lahore Declaration forward. But when Musharraf repeatedly insisted that Kashmir must top the list of the salient points, India agreed.

Mutual confidence-building measures were to be the next item followed by cross-border terrorism. But, Vajpayee told the meeting, Pakistan again insisted on describing it as “freedom struggle”

Musharraf, according to Vajpayee, also demanded a final paragraph to the effect that “all this is agreed upon subject to and dependent on the movement in Jammu and Kashmir”— a clause which would have highlighted the centrality of Kashmir.


Bhubaneswar, July 18: 
Hirakud dam, one of the longest in the country, today came perilouly close to overflowing and possibly bursting, forcing the Orissa government to thrown open a large number of sluice gates to ease the pressure of torrential rains.

The government swung into action as the Mahanadi river continued swelling, pumping the water level in the dam up to 628.35 feet, less than two feet shy of the maximum capacity.

“We can’t endanger Hirakud dam at any cost. To keep Hirakud safe, we have to release more water,” chief secretary D.P. Bagchi said. Had the dam burst, the avalanche of water would have swept away thousands of people.




Maximum: 32.5°C (+1)
Minimum: 26.9°C (+1)


1.4 mm

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 92%,
Minimum: 71%


One or two spells of light to moderate rain in some parts.
Sunrise: 5.04 am
Sunset: 6.21 pm

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