Shaukat Aziz due in India as war of words continues
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz is due to make his first visit to India this week for talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.
Mr Aziz, who arrives on Tuesday afternoon in his capacity as outgoing chairman of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), will meet Dr Singh the following day, according to India’s foreign ministry.
The visit comes amid a fresh verbal spat between the leadership of the two countries.
Dr Singh, on his recent visit to held Kashmir, shot down suggestions floated in October by President Pervez Musharraf regarding possible solutions to the Kashmir dispute.
The next day President Musharraf told AFP that the signals from New Delhi were not good. He went on to accuse India of failing to be flexible on the issue.
Prime Minister Singh responded by telling The Hindu newspaper on Friday that India had to take such comments in its stride.
Analysts in New Delhi said that sharp exchanges were routine ahead of high-level talks.
Former Indian envoy to Islamabad, G Parthasarthy, dismissed the comments as nothing more than both sides spelling out their positions, adding that they would have little impact on Mr Aziz’s visit.
He pointed out that Prime Minister Aziz was not coming to India on a political visit, but in his capacity as outgoing SAARC chairman.
Ashutosh Mishra of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis said the outbursts were hiccups since the peace process was in its initial stages and still evolving.
Ajay Sahni of the Institute of Conflict Management accused President Musharraf of causing “mischief” by floating his Kashmir proposals to journalists without having first discussed them with Delhi. He doubted that this would negatively impact the peace process. afp