In a scintillating speech in the Rajya Sabha, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Thursday said that the process of dialogue between India and Pakistan would continue despite the setback during the Agra summit.
Speaking during the debate on the Indo-Pak talks, he told the House that a broad framework for future talks with Pakistan has been agreed to.
He also said that Islamabad has given an assurance that it would not raise the Kashmir issue in international fora, including the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
"I told President Musharraf that Pakistan has been trying to get Kashmir through military means, but the results are there for them to see. We were ready to discuss Kashmir, but we wanted to discuss other issues as well. However, he was wanted to discuss only Kashmir," Vajpayee said.
He admitted that the government's shortcomings in handling the media. "In this age of the media, we should have been more open and provided information to the media as fast as possible," he conceded.
He recalled that when he and Musharraf did not come out for hours, Union Home Minister L K Advani got worried. So much that he sent in an official to find out if we were really talking or simply chatting away," Vajpayee said amidst laughter.
He told former finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh that India was not talking without an agenda. "We have a concept and we held talks keeping that in mind. The talks failed because of Pakistan's insistence to treat Kashmir as the core issue while we wanted to widen the horizon," he said.
"When I asked Musharraf about Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and how it became a part of Pakistan, he had no answer," Vajpayee said.
On his flip-flop on the Simla agreement, the prime minister said, "We opposed the Simla agreement because being in a position of strength, the then government could have solved the problem in 1971 itself."
Vajpayee said though the Agra summit did not prove fruitful, India and Pakistan would continue with the dialogue. "Foreign secretaries of the two governments have met recently and now it is turn of the two foreign ministers to meet and discuss the issues," he said.
He slammed Pakistan for raising the Kashmir issue on every international fora.
"They tried to raise the issue during the SAARC meeting. However, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga put her foot down and told the Pakistani delegation that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and it cannot be raised at a SAARC meeting," he said.
The prime minister made no mention about the possible date when he would visit Pakistan to continue talks with Gen Pervez Musharraf.
With inputs from PTI
Indo-Pak Summit: Complete Coverage
Back to top
Tell us what you think of this report