The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Notes from Pak for PM

New Delhi, June 8: Just a couple of months ago, he had taunted Manmohan Singh as a “weak” Prime Minister.

Today, his own authority weakened dramatically in the BJP, L.K. Advani found in Singh a man with whom he could discuss his diplomatic efforts in Pakistan without having to explain his comments on M.A. Jinnah.

As his party colleagues pondered over his resignation as BJP chief, Advani donned the leader of Opposition’s hat and called on the Prime Minister, though the meeting lasted only a few minutes.

The BJP leader told Singh that in his assessment, the situation in Pakistan was conducive to taking the peace initiatives forward. He also made a gesture of goodwill, presenting the Prime Minister a painting of his native village in Chakwal district in Pakistan’s Punjab province. It was a memento one of Singh’s “friends” in Pakistan had sent him through Advani.

But if Advani expected sympathy from the Congress ' or at least some recognition that his recent statements had helped create goodwill across the border ' none was forthcoming.

The Congress stated that the BJP leader’s Pakistan tour had been of no consequence to bilateral relations.

“His (Advani’s) visit has nothing to do with the present positive state of Indo-Pak ties,” party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said. “Indeed, the Indo-Pak peace process has survived despite the NDA government’s mistakes.”

Then came the unkindest cut. Natarajan said Advani’s visit had less to do with India-Pakistan relations and more to do with the BJP’s three crises ' crisis of ideology, crisis of identity and crisis of leadership.

Advani, emerging from his meeting with the Prime Minister, however, said the situation in Pakistan was favourable for improvement of relations. Pakistanis want peace and normal ties, he said.

The BJP leader, who had declared that the main objective of his visit was to advance the peace process started by the Vajpayee government, told the Prime Minister the BJP was ready to join the Centre in working for peace and normality across the border.

He gave Singh details of his discussions with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri and other political leaders.

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