Musharraf’s visit ends on positive note

Anand K Sahay

New Delhi, April 18:

President Pervez Musharraf’s departure from here was delayed by two hours this morning. This spells the difference between the wonderful note of optimism, two-way confidence, a note of mutual accommodation, and promise for the future, on which the Pakistan leader’s visit concluded, and the negativism of Agra which might have repeated itself if the two nations had not persisted with the commitment to break deadlocks. Last night passed without a joint statement being ready to be released to mark General Musharraf’s “cricketing” visit. If the difficulties holding up such a statement had persisted even today, India and Pakistan would have been facing something of a debacle in their relationship after so much of recent hype. Fortunately for the people of both countries, this eventually did come to pass. Musharraf’s parting words to the media were that he was “more than satisfied”, and that his expectations were “more than met”.

Sources suggest that from the Indian side, difficulties in the way of a common statement lay in the issue of terrorism. Eventually this was sorted out with Pakistan re-affirming its commitment to the spirit of January 6, 2004 (when Vajpayee visited Pakistan) and of September 24, 2004 (the New York meeting between Singh and Musharraf). On both those occasions Islamabad had committed itself to tackling terrorism. This morning Pakistan agreed to the formulation that terrorism would not be allowed to come in the way of the mutual search for peace which was officially described as having become “irreversible”. Pakistan’s difficulties in evolving a joint statement earlier was the result of making India agree to something suitable on Kashmir. Clearly, such a formulation was eventually found. President Musharraf said both sides had now agreed to work together to find a final settlement of the Kashmir question. All is well that ends well, and Musharraf’s trip has indeed ended on a high note.