Musharraf in India after four years, to talk on terrorismMarch 6th, 2009 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) Nearly four years after he came to India on an official visit to give a push to the peace process, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf arrived here Friday on a private visit at a time when the ties between the two countries have virtually frozen after the Mumbai attacks.
Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan for eight years, will speak on “Challenge of Change” Saturday at a conclave organised by the India Today news magazine.
“It’s strictly a private visit. There is no meeting planned with anyone in the government,” a reliable source told IANS.
Musharraf is keen to meet former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but the meeting is unlikely to take place due to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader’s delicate health. Vajpayee returned home from a hospital Sunday after an attack of pneumonia and related health problems.
Vajpayee and Musharraf launched the composite dialogue process Jan 6, 2004. India has put the dialogue on pause as it has said Pakistani nationals were involved in the Nov 26 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Pakistan has admitted that a part of the Mumbai conspiracy was hatched on its soil and has arrested six people in connection with the attacks, but is waiting for more evidence before starting their trial in Pakistan.
Musharraf’s presidential tenure saw the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 that brought the two countries to the brink of a war. However, the second half of his tenure saw the resumption of the peace process and the launch of new cross-border bus and train links.
Musharraf is interested in going to Aligarh to see the Aligarh Muslim University, but the trip has not been finalised as yet.
Musharraf last visited India in April 2005.
Before he left Islamabad for New Delhi, Musharraf underlined the need for the two countries to adopt a “new path of peace and harmony” to confront the common threat of terrorism and extremism.
“We are facing terrorism and extremism as a common threat to the whole world, the region, Pakistan and India. That is what we need to discuss and find solutions (and work) towards a resolution,” he told reporters at the Islamabad airport.
He was unstinting in his criticism of the terrorist attack on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore Tuesday. The whole of Pakistan is “ashamed” that the Sri Lankan cricket team came under a terrorist attack on its soil, he said.
The former president also underscored the need for more interaction between India and Pakistan so that they can move beyond a cold-war like situation.
“I think the situation demands that we interact with each other. So that way, I think my visit is very appropriate,” he said. The two countries “should forget the past and move towards the future”, he said.
Musharraf said the two countries had been “making progress on the Kashmir issue” and working for the resolution of all problems during his tenure as president. “We should begin from that again and take things forward,” he added.
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