The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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To Laloo, with greetings from Pervez

Patna, Oct. 13 (PTI): Two months after his visit to Pakistan, Laloo Prasad Yadav today received an unusual gift from Islamabad — a photograph showing him and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in a warm handshake with an autograph of the general, describing the Bihar strongman as “an artist of a politician”.

The gift was delivered to the Rashtriya Janata Dal chief by ruling Pakistan Muslim League senator Tariq Azim Khan and the national Assembly member of the Opposition, Pakistan People’s Party’s Zulfiquar Ali Gondal. The duo flew to the state capital to meet Laloo Prasad and his chief minister wife Rabri Devi. “With best compliments to an artist of a politician Laloo saheb,” wrote Musharraf.

“Our visit to India would not have been complete without paying a visit to Laloo saheb, who is the best ambassador India could have for forging a lasting bond of friendship with Pakistan. India is fortunate to have a son like Laloo saheb,” Khan, the leader of the six-member Pakistani delegation which is in India at the invitation of the British Council, told a news conference where both Laloo Prasad and Rabri were present.

Khan, who is also the national spokesman for the ruling party in Pakistan, extended an invitation to the duo on behalf of Musharraf, Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Muslim League president Chaudhary Shujaat Hussain to visit the country, which the RJD chief accepted.

While praising Laloo Prasad for his endeavour to further people to people contact between the two countries, Khan asked the Indian media to exercise caution while reporting on diplomatic events.

The senator displayed the latest issue of an Indian news magazine which had an article on Indo-Pak relations where Musharraf was quoted to have said that swift action should be taken to curtail popular contacts (between India and Pakistan), and which also carried the photo autographed by the general that was delivered today. Khan wondered how Musharraf could invite Laloo saheb and also speak against people to people contacts at the same time.

Though the two Pakistan MPs parried questions about Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India, they favoured resolution of the Kashmir tangle through dialogue, keeping in mind the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

There would be no need for third party intervention if New Delhi and Islamabad decide to resolve their disputes through dialogue, they said.

“India is a major global power and so are we. Both are nuclear powers. The US, or for that matter any other country, would seek a role in resolving our differences only when we refuse to talk,” Khan said, adding that Musharraf felt that people to people contact between the two neighbours would help create an atmosphere conducive for resuming the dialogue.

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