The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak utters the ‘T’ word as Aziz enters

New Delhi, June 30: Pakistan today condemned Saturday’s suicide attack in Jammu and Kashmir though, hours earlier, the country’s new high commissioner in India denied there was any cross-border terrorism in the state.

Aziz Ahmed Khan, who stepped into India at the Wagah border with his wife Aisha, said his mission was to take forward the peace process between the two countries, initiated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

A career diplomat who was a deputy high commissioner in Delhi, Khan refused to comment on the attack on the army camp in Sunjwan that killed 12 soldiers.

Asked about resumption of bilateral talks, he said: “I hope this will start very soon. Whichever levels the talks start, we will welcome them. We are ready and we have been saying this for a long time. I think this has been repeated at the highest level.”

Khan emphasised that Pakistan was ready to resolve all outstanding issues, including that of Kashmir.

Later in the evening, the Pakistani foreign office in Islamabad issued a statement condemning Saturday’s terrorist attack. “It is a terrorist act. We condemn all terrorist acts...This is a horrible incident. I think that those innocent lives should not have been targeted,” foreign ministry spokesman Masood Khan said.

Saying it would be wrong of Delhi to blame Pakistan in a hurry, Masood Khan emphasised the attack would not have “any negative impact” on the peace process.

India, which has not yet officially blamed Pakistan for the attack, however, took exception to President Pervez Musharraf’s attempt to draw parallels between Tibet and Kashmir.

Musharraf recently said he expected Vajpayee to show the same flexibility on Kashmir as he had over recognising the Tibet Autonomous Region as part of China.

“There is no similarity between Tibet and Jammu and Kashmir,” foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said. “Our position that Tibet Autonomous Region is a part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China has been consistent for nearly five decades.”

Sarna said the problem is “Pakistan refuses to recognise the political and legal reality that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India”. “Clearly, therefore, the flexibility that President Musharraf referred to has to be shown by Pakistan.”

Criticising the Tibet-Kashmir parallel, the BJP said the difference between the two was “as stark as between day and night”.

“There is no question of India showing any flexibility, either in our well-known stand on Jammu and Kashmir or in our determined fight against cross-border terrorism,” BJP spokesman Vijay Malhotra said.

Talks with UAE

India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today decided to work on a long-term strategic dialogue and set up a joint business council to increase bilateral trade to $5 billion in the near future.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, UAE’s chief of defence forces and de facto national security adviser, met deputy Prime Minister .K. Advani and foreign minister Yashwant Sinha and discussed cooperation in security and defence areas and ways to counter terrorism.

It was decided that the strategic dialogue would be made an annual exercise and the two countries would maintain the frequency of high-level contacts.

Security-related matters with emphasis on revising mechanisms to counter financial networks involved in funding militants came up during the delegation’s talks with the deputy Prime Minister.

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