New Delhi, Nov. 1: Musharraf is coming to India again. No, it’s not the wily general this time, but younger brother Javed.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s sibling, who works with the United Nations, is scheduled to land in Chennai on December 1 for a seminar.
Jointly sponsored by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, the meet will focus on regional strategies for poverty eradication. Non-government organisations from South Asian countries and other officials are expected to attend.
So far, Javed’s visit is a hush-hush affair, known only to a handful in the government. But once the wraps come off, it is certain to turn into one of the talking points in diplomatic and political circles.
He is not slated to meet anybody but the seminar participants. But like in the past — for instance, ahead of the Saarc summit in Kathmandu earlier this year when the Pakistan and Indian armies were eyeball-to-eyeball — he might try to use his informal contacts to cool temperatures.
The news of Javed’s proposed visit comes at a time when there is much speculation whether Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will go to Islamabad for the Saarc summit next January or whether there will be a one-to-one between him and the Pakistan President on the sidelines.
Ironically, the thrust of the Chennai meet — poverty alleviation— is an issue close to Vajpayee’s heart. His passionate plea to the Pakistan President “to take the high road of peace” to improve the lot of the people in South Asia had led to the Agra summit last summer.
Javed’s visit ahead of the Islamabad summit might be seen by many as an attempt to pave the ground for Vajpayee’s trip. After the December 13 Parliament attack and the terrorist strike on an army camp in Kaluchak, ties between the nuclear neighbours had sunk to all-time low. Diplomatic relations were scaled down and overflights in each other’s air space banned. Both had also rushed troops to the border.
Tensions have eased a little since the successful conduct of the Jammu and Kashmir elections and troops have been pulled back, but distrust and suspicion continue to simmer.
Vajpayee himself recalled Pakistan’s double standards today while opening a housing complex for the families of Kargil martyrs. Speaking about his Lahore bus trip, he said: “Peace talks in Lahore and war in Kargil. This was betrayal.
“We want to live in peace with our neighbours, with a sense of brotherhood. And that is why I went to Lahore,” he said.
Onward to Islamabad, Mr Prime Minister' Or, once bitten, twice shy'