The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pervez comforts PM in tragedy

New Delhi/Islamabad, July 29: Marooned Mumbai drew a word of sympathy from Pervez Musharraf today.

The Pakistan President called up Manmohan Singh to express concern over the deaths and destruction caused by the heavy rain in Maharashtra, the Prime Minister’s media adviser Sanjaya Baru said.

“The President and the Prime Minister had a cordial conversation on bilateral relations also,” he said. The talks lasted 10 minutes.

The gesture came on a day militants pulled off yet another audacious attack on security forces in the heart of Srinagar and slit the throats of five shepherds in Jammu.

The militants struck at Lal Chowk, Srinagar’s commercial hub that was thronging with shoppers and tourists. Two security personnel were killed and 18 wounded in a gunbattle that ensued to flush out the militants who rushed into a Gujarati hotel.

But across the border, Musharraf continued the friendly pitch, saying the ripples set off by Singh’s comments on Pakistan’s nuclear programme would not affect the bilateral peace process.

“The recent rhetoric has not in any way changed the reality and the peace process with India will continue,” he told a group of Islamabad-based foreign correspondents.

During his visit to the US, Singh had told a television channel he feared Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal might fall into the hands of Islamic militants should they topple Musharraf. But Pakistan had waved away the possibility.

“I am looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at least in September when I go to the United Nations,” Musharraf said.

He also took the opportunity to invite Singh to Pakistan. “He is more than welcome if he wants to visit Pakistan ahead of our scheduled meeting in New York.”

Musharraf said there was no need for India to be worried about militant training camps in Pakistan as things were steadily looking up.

“About the training camps, let me assure you the situation is on the mend. There is improvement in every sphere of activity,” he said.

Musharraf also had a word of assurance on religious schools in Pakistan reported to be training militants and causing growing global concern. He said he had ordered over 1,400 foreign students studying in madarsas to leave the country immediately.

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