Jamali hails Vajpayee's remark on talks

ISLAMABAD Nov. 13. The Pakistan Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, has welcomed the statement of his Indian counterpart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, that India is not opposed to holding talks with Pakistan. "This is a positive development and we welcome it," Mr. Jamali told journalists here at an Iftar reception hosted in his honour by one of his ministerial colleagues. He was referring to Mr. Vajpayee's comments in Moscow on Wednesday.

Mr. Jamali has said such an `attitude' could promote relations between the two countries. But the Pakistan Prime Minister made no reference to the observations made by Mr. Vajpayee that talks between India and Pakistan could take place only if Islamabad worked towards creating the right atmosphere. In response to a question about the future of Parliament in the context of the Opposition's demands, Mr. Jamali asserted that there was no threat to the democratic system and that the National Assembly would complete its tenure.

ARD leader in judicial custody

In another development, the president of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, who was arrested two weeks ago on charges of defaming the Army has been sent on a 14-day judicial remand. The judge accepted Mr. Hashmi's plea on his medical examination.

The court ordered Islamabad police to send Mr. Hashmi to the Adiyala central jail.

The ARD leader lodged a protest with the judge, saying that he was subjected to severe torture and despite his repeated requests he was not allowed access to a medical examination.

Mr. Hashmi said he had requested the police to allow him to meet his counsel but the police did not pay any heed to it. He was kept blindfolded with a strip cloth and made to sit with a switched-on high-power electric bulb hanging over his head.