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July 6, 1999
'Humiliating' deal puzzles Pak media
Puzzled Pakistani newspapers today called on the government to explain what Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief agreed to do in Kashmir in his weekend talks with US President Bill Clinton.
''The joint statement of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief and President Clinton, as released by the White House, is likely to leave many in Pakistan bewildered,'' The Nation newspaper said.
The agreement said Pakistan would take 'concrete steps' to restore the Line of Control, which, US officials said, meant that Islamabad would pull back forces which captured strategic Indian heights in its Kargil sector.
Editorials asked if this meant pulling out Mujahideen Muslim militant groups, a reversal of Pakistan's position that it has no influence over Kashmiri 'freedom fighters'.
''While our government spokesmen will, as usual, try to put all kinds of spin on this statement, the people have a right to know what the country has gained and what it has lost,'' said The News.
''Mr Sharief, after all, himself sought a meeting whose outcome, as is evident from the joint statement, is the very opposite of his stated objective and recent rhetoric,'' The News editorial said.
Editorials questioned whether Clinton's commitment to take a 'personal interest' in promoting the resumption of Indo-Pakistani peace talks would move the 50-year Kashmir dispute any closer to resolution.
''India is not bound to offer any quid pro quo for any pullout Pakistan might undertake. And there is no provision in the statement which obliges the US make India offer any quid pro quo. In that sense, the statement is one-sided,'' said The Nation.
''In other words, if President Clinton too fails, what would Pakistan have received for its pains? Nothing. In fact, Pakistan would probably be much worse off than it is now,'' it said.
The News echoed this line: ''It is plain that the joint statement places obligations on Pakistan to take concrete steps but hardly commits the US to promote a solution of the Kashmir dispute.
''Reaffirming the sanctity of the Line of Control as the way to defuse the current fighting is an unmistakable affirmation of the position taken by the Indians throughout two months of the Kargil crisis,'' it said.
''The government must also explain why the prime minister needed to go all the way to Washington, amid unprecedented international pressure on Islamabad, just to commit himself to taking steps without securing any commitment that the larger issue of Kashmir would be addressed,'' The News said.
The Nation commented, ''The point to ponder for our policy-makers in Islamabad is: why was the Kargil initiative taken in the first place, if it has to be abandoned in such a hasty and humiliating manner?''
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