Shaukat to play host to Vajpayee

January 02, 2004

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 1: Pakistan on Thursday replaced Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad as host to the Indian prime minister and appointed Shaukat Aziz as minister-in-waiting. Sheikh Rashid Ahmad was appointed as minister-in-waiting a few days ago, but had been changed due to Indian government's reservations, official sources said.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmad confirmed that he had been replaced, but refused to give reasons for the change. "I have received a fax today. It is not a big thing, and I have no comment to offer," the minister said.

An official privy to the decision said the change was made because of the Indian foreign ministry's objection to the nomination of Sheikh Rashid Ahmad as minister-in-waiting.

Sheikh Rashid has been matching Indian Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani in sabre rattling, and hurling threats of making India a wasteland with nuclear attacks if Pakistan's integrity was put in danger.