Delhi keeps its cool

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. The Vajpayee Government wants to wait and watch as to what steps Pakistan takes to carry further Gen. Pervez Musharraf's expressed keenness to meet the leaders of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. Senior officials were confident that, as a good guest, the Pakistan President would not like to do anything that could offend the sensitivities of the host.

The view is that the General had to make some sort of gesture towards the Hurriyat. After all, Pakistan has invested a lot in the Hurriyat and cannot be seen as dumping the combine, according to an official.

The bilateralism implied in the Vajpayee-Musharraf summit has already invoked widespread ridicule for the Hurriyat and its pretensions of being the ``third party'' in the Valley 's Urdu press. The conglomerate has been virtually begging Islamabad for some kind of face-saving gesture, according to the officials.

As per the Indian calculation, Gen. Musharraf would not like to allow the Hurriyat matter to jeopardise the summit. Having provided the Hurriyat the face-saving ``invitation,'' he would now put the onus on his hosts. And the Indian hosts would not mind being seen as unreasonably adamant.

In New Delhi's calculations, the Hurriyat does not deserve any consideration after it turned out the K. C. Pant mission, particularly when the Centre's designated interlocutor had singled it out for a special mention. New Delhi is not going to allow the APHC to advance its claim of being the sole representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. This thinking would determine its response to Pakistan's next move, if any, on the Hurriyat front.