Kargil derailed India-Pakistan ties: Nawaz Sharif

Indo Asian News Service

Lahore, Jan 8 (IANS) Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday obliquely blasted then army chief Pervez Musharraf for derailing the India-Pakistan peace process by indulging in the "Kargil misadventure".

Without naming Musharraf, Sharif said that his efforts to normalise relations with India were sabotaged.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader was addressing a special session of the South Asia Free Media Conference here.

Sharif said when he and then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee signed the Lahore declaration in 1999, both governments agreed to resolve all their differences peacefully.

But soon these efforts came to naught as they were sabotaged, he said.

The reference was to the intrusion by Pakistani soldiers into Kargil region in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999 that led to a major military showdown. Islamabad was finally forced to pull out.

The Lahore meeting also discussed ways and means to remove bottlenecks in enhancing trade between India and Pakistan.

Some 280 delegates from eight SAARC nations including more than 65 from India are taking part in the two-day conference, which called for free movement of "men and material" in South Asia.

Sharif said India and Pakistan needed to resolve their disputes through dialogue.

The era of confrontation was over and the focus should be on creating a conductive atmosphere to resolve bilateral issues.

He said if his party took power in Islamabad, his priority will be to enhance and increase the level of cooperation with India.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said SAARC should emulate the European Union to work for the development of the region.

He said India and Pakistan fought three wars but they could not settle their disputes. "The best approach is to address these disputes in an amicable manner."

Tuesday's session was also addressed by veteran journalist Najam Sethi, human rights activist Asma Jehangir and other media personalities.

Veteran Pakistani scholar Hasan Askari Rizvi said Pakistan had surrendered to the Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

He said 60 percent of Pakistan's territory was no longer under the control of the government while non-state actors had full or partial control in these areas.

He said the fears of a section of the business community on giving the Most Favoured Nation status to India were not justified.