Visit did not violate understanding: FO

June 22, 2005

Email

ISLAMABAD, June 21: Islamabad on Tuesday made it clear that it “does not stand guilty” of violating any understanding with New Delhi with regard to the Hurriyat delegation’s recent visit to Pakistan.

“There has been no violation of any understanding whatsoever,” Foreign Office spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani categorically stated when Dawn sought a comment on Indian Prime Minister’s reported claim that Pakistan had violated an understanding reached between the two countries on this front.

The spokesman also asserted that Pakistan had not received any “official communication” from the Indian side in this context.

He described the visit of the Hurriyat delegation to Pakistan as “a positive development” and underlined: “We view the visit of the Hurriyat leaders as part of the peace process.”

Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh blamed Pakistan for violating the understanding in his letter to the former premier and opposition BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee who in an open letter to the former was critical of Hurriyat delegation’s visit to Pakistan without passports and visas. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his letter on Tuesday pointed out that the visit of Hurriyat leaders to AJK using the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus was cleared on the basis of agreed procedures and said: “That Pakistan decided to invite them to visit Islamabad and other cities in Pakistan violated an understanding on these procedures that had been reached between India and Pakistan.”

He added: “Passports were issued to those Hurriyat leaders who did not possess Indian passports and made a request for the issue of such documents. It would not, therefore, be correct to state that the authorities on our side had mishandled the visit of the Hurriyat.”

Mr Vajpayee in his letter last week had drawn attention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to what he called “the disturbing turn” that the peace process with Pakistan had taken. He had specifically expressed concern about “the prominence being given to the Hurriyat vis-a-vis the democratically elected government of Jammu and Kashmir” and “the way Hurriyat visit to Pakistan was mishandled” by the Indian authorities.

He wrote: “General Musharraf claims that they were invited to Pakistan with your approval. Initial stand that they would not be allowed to go without passport and visas was reversed. Officials gave the impression that our government is running after them to hand them passports and finally they travelled to Pakistan against the established norms of international travel. Since we did not prevent the Hurriyat leaders from crossing the LoC with the avowed intention of going to Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, etc., Pakistan and Hurriyat treated our protest about the violation of “some understanding” with scorn. They should have been given Indian passports and asked to enter Pakistan across the international border. All this has held our country up to mockery.”

Four days before the Hurriyat leaders’ visit here, Pakistan had declared that they would travel beyond AJK without passports and visas by virtue of their special status.