NATIONAL

India disappointed at Pakistan's statement

NEW DELHI, JULY 24. A day after the External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, returned from his five-day Pakistan visit for the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting, India expressed disappointment at the tone and substance of some of the comments made in the press release issued by the Pakistan Foreign Office on Friday after Mr. Singh's meeting with the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf.

``The press release does not reflect the comprehensiveness of the discussions,'' the official spokesman said today.

Strange reference

Ministry sources said the reference in the press release to a ``reasonable'' time-frame for a final settlement of the Kashmir issue sounded strange coming from those who avoided any discussions on the subject between 1972 and 1989, made discussions impossible from 1990 onwards because of the sponsorship of terrorism, and made the prospects of a final settlement difficult by ignoring the realities and by adopting non-pragmatic positions.

The sources also rejected suggestions for ``simultaneous'' progress on all issues, not only because it was an unrealistic approach but also because it was aimed at thwarting progress. The suggestion was contrary to the articulated positions of the Pakistani leadership which had earlier advocated resolving the easier issues first, building confidence and developing the relationship in a step-by-step manner. It was surprising that the statement of the Pakistan Foreign Office talked of providing ``comfort'' to the Kashmiris, even though it was Pakistan which had attempted to undermine such ``comfort'' by its sponsorship of terrorism and encouragement to extremism, the sources said.

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