NATIONAL

Musharraf's gesture to an `artist of a politician'

PATNA Oct. 13. The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has reciprocated the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader, Laloo Prasad Yadav's recent gestures in Pakistan. If Mr. Yadav was keen on striking a cordial note with him as well as with Pakistan, Gen. Musharraf said that he too would not budge from going to any length to return the favour.

Gen. Musharraf sent Mr. Yadav an autographed photo of his shaking hands with Mr. Yadav. ``To an artist of a politician, Laloo Saheb,'' he wrote.

The photograph was presented to Mr. Yadav by two MPs from Pakistan who are part of a six-member delegation on a visit to India on the invitation of the British Council to discuss Technology for Poverty Reduction.

A visibly happy Mr. Yadav took Tariq Azeem Khan of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and Zulfiqar Ali Bundal of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the two emissaries of the Pakistan President, round his residential premises.

Mr. Yadav and the Pakistani Senators seemed to agree on most issues — forget the past and look to the future. The emphasis was on increasing party-to-party contact regardless of the manner in which the talks at the highest levels between the two countries progressed.

Mr. Yadav said that he would invite the PML president, Chaudhary Sajjat Hussain, to visit India, Patna in particular. He himself would love visiting Pakistan any number of times.

The Senators stressed that the people there were so mesmerised by Mr. Yadav that his programmes had to be repeated thrice on the TV network.

They also made it a point to stress that his next visit had necessarily to be in the company of his wife and Bihar Chief Minister, Rabri Devi.

Mr. Yadav and the two MPs agreed to impress upon their Governments the need to relax visa norms for elderly people wanting to visit their families separated across the border. They also favoured reviving the cricketing ties between the two countries.

As regards the SAARC meeting in Islamabad next January, the two MPs felt that that Gen. Musharraf would not be lacking in initiative, as he had done in Kathmandu, to shake hands with the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. They also hoped that Mr. Vajpayee would be gracious enough to start a new chapter.

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