February 8, 1978, Forty Years Ago: Vajpayee in Pakistan

Front Page of The Indian Express on Februray 8, 1977

By: Editorial | Updated: February 8, 2018 12:10:11 am
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The stationing of journalists of the two countries in each other’s capital, more frequent exchange of visits, liberalisation of visa facilities and the general improvement of trade to each other’s benefits were outlined by the Indian foreign minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as the tangible gains from what he thought was a “historic visit to Pakistan”. Addressing the press in Islamabad, Vajpayee said the question of Kashmir could be discussed by the two countries in accordance with Simla Agreement with a “view to solving the problem” only after the process of normalisation of relations between the two countries was complete. When asked what more remained to be accomplished now that diplomatic relations have been restored, trade started and communications resumed, Vajpayee replied, “a great deal”. When asked how he reconciled his present commitment to the Simla accord to his earlier declaration as a Jana Sangh leader that the agreement was a stab in the nation’s back, Vajpayee said, amid laughter, “I am trying to forget my past and I urge you to do the same.”

Desai rules out meet

Prime Minister Morarji Desai ruled out the possibility of holding a chief ministers’ conference to discuss Centre-state relations as demanded by West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu. Desai said he did not even feel any need for a national debate on this issue. But he would always be ready to hold discussions on the issue at a personal level, he added.

Setting an example

Prime Minister Morarji Desai set a noble example during his just concluded tour of Assam by refusing to be a state guest. The Assam government wanted to treat him as a state guest, but Desai not only declined to accept official hospitality, but also insisted on paying for the use of the government vehicle etc. The Janata Party had deposited the money for the use of the vehicle and microphones.

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