Left not hopeful of outcome of talks

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. Despite the hype over the coming Indo- Pakistani talks, the Left parties are not hopeful about its outcome, especially with regard to the Jammu and Kashmir issue.

The CPI(M) and the CPI, which had welcomed the decision to resume the dialogue, share the view that the summit meeting between the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, could be a platform for both New Delhi and Islamabad to initiate confidence- building measures.

The CPI general secretary, Mr. A.B. Bardhan, said that while Jammu and Kashmir should be discussed, it would be better if both countries agree to set up a working group on all aspects of the situation.

He said this would keep the dialogue process going on Kashmir and other issues such as trade, cultural exchange and sports so that ``confidence-building measures are taken and suitable atmosphere is built''.

The CPI(M) said a dialogue with Pakistan would prevent third- party intervention, especially since the United States had expressed its willingness to assist if both countries desired.

Mr. Prakash Karat, CPI(M) politburo member, said the party did not have any ``great expectation'' from these talks, especially on Kashmir.

This was primarily because the meeting was taking place after a sudden announcement which gave less time for preparation.

``This summit is not coming at an end of protracted negotiations but at the start,'' he said adding that in effect it was just resumption of the dialogue.

Explaining why the party did not visualise anything of substance to come out, Mr. Karat said, the Government itself was not clear on what it wanted to do.

He said the Vajpayee Government had taken a series of contradictory steps such as the ceasefire declaration, appointing an interlocutor, withdrawing the ceasefire and inviting Gen. Musharraf for talks.

The BJP-led NDA Government had also rejected the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly resolution demanding autonomy, which it felt could be one of the basis of the Centre spelling out what it has to offer to the people of Kashmir.

On autonomy, he said the CPI(M) had told the Centre's interlocutor, Mr. K.C. Pant, that while the party favoured maximum autonomy, it wanted equitable distribution of resources to all three regions in the State.

It warned the Centre not to go by any other agenda. It expressed concern over the suggestion for trifurcation of the State on `communal' lines.

In their meeting with Mr. Pant on Thursday, the CPI(M) objected to suggestions such as giving separate international status to J&K as this was far removed from ground realities.