The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani, Pervez carry terror spat to Britain

London, June 17: To no one’s surprise, .K. Advani and President Pervez Musharraf flatly contradicted each other in London today, with the deputy Prime Minister claiming that cross-border terrorism was carrying on as usual and the Pakistani President stating that the Line of Control was quiet.

A British foreign office spokesman said: “Pakistan should do all it can to prevent cross-border terrorism. We are aware that the Indians and the Pakistanis are saying different things but it is not Britain’s part to act as arbiters.”

Yesterday, Tony Blair had a meeting with Advani, who told a news conference at India House today: “I took the opportunity of thanking Prime Minister Blair for the support extended by the British leadership to India’s struggle against terrorism, noting that Mr Blair had already expressed his personal appreciation of our Prime Minister’s peace initiatives when they met in St Petersburg.”

Advani added: “Pakistan should fulfil its commitment on ceasing cross-border terrorism and dismantling terrorist infrastructure. Prime Minister Blair expressed complete understanding of our position adding that, as in the past, he would underline these concerns during his meeting with General Musharraf in London today.”

However, Musharraf had a different tale to tell when he emerged from his lunch meeting with Blair at 10, Downing Street. “Pakistan is totally against any form of extremism, any form of religious extremism,” he said.

Pakistan had three forms — the al Qaida network, remnants of the Taliban and “our own religious extremists and militants”.

He pledged: “We are acting against all three. We are meeting great success in all that.”

Musharraf went on: “There is nothing happening on the Line of Control. Let us not be blackmailed on this issue by India. Some of their leaders continuously harp on this issue. It’s simply not true. It’s my word against theirs. But I am very sure nothing is happening on the Line of Control.”

Blair’s views on the issue were clear, said the Pakistani President. “He’s for discussion of the issue and going for a resolution of the issue. The solution has to depend basically on India and Pakistan and the people of Kashmir. He can only facilitate and encourage us.”

His discussion with Blair was “very wholesome”, said Musharraf. “We had an excellent interaction.”

Not to be outdone, Advani told the news conference at India House about his meeting: “The talks were conducted in the garden and the atmospherics and ambience were excellent.” Advani said he knew infiltration was going on because those seeking to come across the border from Pakistan were being shot by the Indian Army on the Line of Control on a regular basis. He gave no other details.

He also seemed to be preparing Indian public opinion for possible deployment of Indian troops in Iraq. He confirmed that India had sought “clarifications” from the US, especially on the nature of the interim government in Iraq.

“I can only say that no decision has been taken,” commented Advani. “It is true that when the UN passed its resolution, appealing to the member states that they contribute to the stabilisation of Iraq, the Cabinet committee on security had two sessions, two meetings, in which all aspects were discussed.

When I say we wanted some clarifications it had a lot to do with what would be the nature of interim Iraqi administration, how do we propose to bring in an Iraqi administration in Iraq, what is our schedule for that, as in the case of Afghanistan a schedule was drawn up. Would there be a similar schedule in the case of Iraq also' It was our concern for the people of Iraq that made us raise several questions and I am sure that answers may have been given yesterday (in Delhi). It is in the light of those answers we will take a decision.”

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