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No Pak trip was planned for PM in March: India

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
Last updated on: June 07, 2007 17:07 IST
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India on Thursday rejected a report carried by a Pakistani daily which claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had agreed to travel to Islamabad on March 27 but the visit could not materialise due to 'foot dragging' by Pakistan.

The reaction of the Indian High Commission came after Dawn published a report on Thursday, quoting 'well-informed insiders' as claiming that Dr Singh was ready to visit Islamabad on March 27. It said the visit did not materialise apparently due to 'foot dragging' by Pakistan.

The daily also claimed that India, while forwarding dates for Dr Singh's March visit, had also suggested that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf should attend the forthcoming SAARC summit -- which was held in New Delhi in April this year.

Dismissing the report, the Indian High Commission said: 'Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said more than once that he has accepted President Musharraf's invitation with pleasure and looks forward to his visit, which will, however, take place when substantive outcomes can be expected from it'.

'We have not reached that point yet and have not discussed dates for the prime minister's visit', it said.

Questioning the veracity of the claims, which the paper attributed to 'well-informed insiders' which Indian officials believe was a reference to Pakistani officials, it pointed to the report referring to Rajya Sabha as 'Raja Samba' and Indian Parliamentarian Nirmala Deshpande as 'Normal Desponded'.

'The piece in your paper on Thursday, Indians had proposed Manmohan visit on March 27, seems to have been written in a parallel universe where the Indian Rajya Sabha is the Raja Samba and one of its better-known members, Nirmala Deshpande, is Normal Desponded', the Indian High Commission said.

It is only in that universe that India could have proposed a visit by its prime minister only so that the President of Pakistan could attend the SAARC Summit in New Delhi.

In this regard, governments do not quite act like that, the Indian High Commission said.

'In that other universe, it seems that India, having also sought a formal meeting in Hamburg between its External Affairs Minister and the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, did not then respond after Pakistan indicated a date and time'.

In the real world, India did not seek a meeting, since the two Ministers had recently had a detailed discussion at the SAARC Summit. The Ministers had a chat on the margins of the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting). This is how most bilateral discussions are held at multi-lateral conferences', it said.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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