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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

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PM must go with an agenda to Pak.: Natwar Singh

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, JULY 30. The Congress today urged the Prime Minister, Mr. A. B. Vajpayee, ``to do his homework'' and ``go with an agenda'' to Pakistan for resuming summit negotiations with its President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

``My respectful appeal to the Prime Minister is, for heaven's sake, do your homework before going to the summit and keep the powder dry,'' the CWC member and former External Affairs Minister, Mr. K. Natwar Singh, told the media here. The Government should not ``let its guard down'' while resuming the peace negotiations.

Pointing out that the Kargil war broke out just months after the Lahore Declaration was signed by Mr. Vajpayee, he said ``extending a hand of friendship should not mean lowering of guard''.

The handling of the Agra summit by the National Democratic Alliance Government had ``not done it any good''. The Government went into the summit ``unprepared and without any agenda'', while the Pakistan President ``succeeded'' in making Jammu and Kashmir the ``one-point agenda''.

The Congress had always favoured continuation of peace negotiations, but it was the Vajpayee government which had maintained that there was no scope for talks with Pakistan unless it halted cross-border terrorism. However, the Government ``made a sudden u-turn'' and invited Gen.Musharraf for talks. ``The Prime Minister is yet to explain why this u-turn was done?''

To a query, Mr. Singh said the agenda for further negotiations should comprise cross-border terrorism, nuclear understanding, Jammu and Kashmir and opening of Consul-General offices in both the countries.

Mr. Singh was here to participate in a function in which Mr. C. R. Kesavan, late C.Rajagopalachari's great grandson, formally joined the Congress.

Asked whether India should play a mediatory role in the context of the escalating violence in Sri Lanka, he said the island Government had not sought India's intervention.

On the controversial transfer of three IPS officers including the Chennai Police Commissioner by the Centre to the Cabinet Secretariat in New Delhi, he said he was not aware of the details. Nonetheless, civil servants should not be subjected to ``political manoeuvring''. While there should be no political pressure on bureaucrats, the officers too should remain ``above politics and perform their duties impartially''.

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