New Delhi intimated Pakistan to welcome Vajpayee visit on Feb 20 : FO

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP): Pakistan has informed New Delhi it would welcome Prime Minister Atar Behari Vajpayee visit to Pakistan on Feb. 20, said Foreign Office Spokesman here Thursday. Briefing reporters here, FO, Spokesman said, that an advanced Indian team is arriving in the Federal Capital on Friday (Tomorrow), to hold discussion in this regard and work out the programme for the visit. When asked, FO, spokesman said, in view of Vajpayee visit, the Foreign Secretary level talks between two sides, to be held on Feb 18, will be rescheduled. The new dates for these talks will be decided through mutual consultation, he said. FO Spokesman, to a query, if the level of current talks at Foreign Secretary level would be upgraded, said, it would be determined after talks between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Vajpayee. "Let us see what kind of progress can be achieved in this summit," said the Spokesman. He said Pakistan has a principled stand on all issues with India including the core issue of Kashmir. FO Spokesman said, "we must wait," for the result of the visits and hope for some positive results.

IAEA DG briefs Nawaz on peaceful uses of nuclear energy

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP)- The Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Dr. Mohammed El Baradei Thursday called on Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at PM House here and briefed him on IAEA's efforts for peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Dr. Baradei hoped nuclear powers would play an important role in the economic development of the third world countries. Nawaz Sharif appreciated co-operation being extended by IAEA in implementing peaceful uses of nuclear energy in Pakistan. Baradei arrived here on last Wednesday for a 5- day visit to Pakistan.

Resolution of Kashmir dispute, imperative for durable peace in South Asia : Shamshad

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP): Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad said here Thursday evening that the objective of durable peace in South Asia can only be achieved when the Jammu and Kashmir issue is addressed meaningfully in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. He was talking to newsmen here at the Iranian Embassy reception. In response to a question about taking the Kashmiri leadership into confidence ahead of the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Feb 20, he said: "We have always taken the Kashmiri leadership into confidence." Replying to another question Shamshad Ahmad said, Kashmir occupies central position in Pakistan's dialogue with the United States . "Our interlocutor Strobe Talbott has recognized the importance of Kashmir issue, he has likened the four nuclear related issues with the four legs of an elephant while saying that Kashmir is its trunk." Shamshad Ahmad said, in the eight rounds of dialogue with the US, the Kashmir dispute has figured as it is linked with peace and security in the region. During his recent visit to Amman, he said, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged President Clinton that the US should pay attention to Kashmir issue for the objective of peace and security in South Asia. The Foreign Secretary also referred to the September 1998 joint statement of prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Vajpayee that all outstanding issues including Kashmir should be addressed for promoting an environment of peace and security in the region.

Pakistan achieved nuclear capability in 1984 : Dr.Abdul Qadeer

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP): "Pakistan achieved the nuclear capability in 1984 and I sent a letter to late General Zia-ul-Haq on December 20 the same year that on government's go ahead signal, Pakistan could explode the nuclear device at one week's notice," Dr.Abdul Qadeer said on Thursday. "The letter is on record with the signatures of General Naqvi with whom we kept liaison at that time," the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme and renowned scientist Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan stated this while speaking in a PTV programme. On the nuclear explosions of India on May 11,13, 1998, he said, "We were neither concerned nor surprised as in 1984 relevant tests were successfully completed by us including attainment of right neutron concentration." While expressing his feelings on Pakistan's successful nuclear detonations, Dr.Qadeer said, despite enormous difficulties in which the country was engulfed like lack of infrastructure, education and problem of law and order the nation emerged victorious with the blessings and help of God. He was all praise for the stand which the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took at that critical juncture and said the Prime Minister took a brave decision despite all international pressure. Further relating the developments in those days he revealed "We were in close touch with the Premier daily and he received repeated calls in a day from President Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and French President Chirac and Japanese prime minister who tried to influence his decision." They offered lucrative incentives including economic aid but the Prime Minister never pondered over the proposition of not exploding the nuclear device, he added. He explained that the Prime Minister wanted to gauge international reaction to Indian obdurate detonations to make the world realise the untimely Indian onset of arms race. The world was aware that Pakistan can explode its atomic device any time but "We restrained ourselves for over two weeks." He said, after the world started to get sceptical about Pakistan capability and took it as a 'bluff' then the Prime Minister issued the orders for detonation. Recalling the events relating to the inception of the Pakistan's nuclear programme, he said the Western World at the start thought that achieving uranium enrichment for Pakistan is next to impossible and took it as a joke. He recalled, "They in their naivety continued supplying us material and machines in order to mint money at the expense of Pakistan and thought these purchases will go waste and ignored our purchases for uranium enrichment." Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan explained the process of uranium enrichment and said, this process is performed with centrifuge machines which perform 63000 revolutions per minute and uranium gas is entered to separate two isotopes or atoms in which one is 235 heavy atom and other 235 light atom.

First informal Indo-Pakistan MPs conference opens Friday Eds:

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP): The first non-official conference of parliamentarians from Pakistan and India opens here Friday to explore avenues to peace in the sub-continent. Some 100 deputies from different political parties of Pakistan and India will participate in the two-day deliberations organized by daily The News. About 60 Pakistani law-makers representing ruling Pakistan Muslim League, Pakistan Peoples Party, Awami National Party, Mutahida Quami Movement, Jamhoori Watan Party and Balochistan National Party will join their counterparts from India. Around 35 Indian MPs from ruling Bharitia Janata Party (BJ), Congress, Left Front, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samta Party (SP) and regional parties have confirmed their participation in the conference. "Towards Detente in the Sub-continent" will be the theme of the conference. The agenda for the Conference, format and its procedure details will be worked out by the participants themselves. However, the organizers have proposed an agenda and format for their consideration. The Conference will be co-presided by the senior Parliamentarians. The open sessions can be attended by the media. The closed-door sessions will be moderated by leading journalists of the sub-continent but will not be open to the press, the organizers said.

Sartaj briefs El Baradei about Pakistan's position on nuclear non-proliferation issues

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP): Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, who is currently visiting Pakistan, called on the Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz Thursday and exchanged views on issues pertaining to enhancing cooperation between Pakistan and the IAEA in the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. Dr. ElBaradei apprised the Foreign Minister of IAEA's activities especially for the promotion of safety culture in the use of nuclear power as well as its technical projects for the socio-economic development of its more than 125 member states. He expressed satisfaction that Pakistan was the second largest recipient of IAEA's technical assistance. He also appreciated Pakistan's excellent track record in meeting safety standards in its nuclear power plants and hoped that the bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and the Agency would further enhance in the years to come. The Foreign Minister briefed the Director General about Pakistan's position on nuclear non-proliferation issues including the CTBT, export controls and the proposed treaty on fissile materials. The Foreign Minister stressed that Pakistan's nuclear tests in response to the Indian tests had restored the strategic balance in the region which was essential for preserving peace in South Asia. The Foreign Minister reciprocated the Director General's desire for augmenting cooperation between Pakistan and the IAEA.

Complete strike observed in IHK to mark martyrdom day of Maqbool Butt

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP): A complete strike was observed on Thursday across the Indian Held Kashmir and Azad Kashmir to mark the 15th anniversary of martyrdom of champion of the Kashmiris' right, Muhammad Maqbool Butt. Life in the held state came to a standstill and all business centres, educational institutions, offices and courts remained closed. Roads gave a deserted look due to the suspension of all types of transport. Rallies and processions were taken out from various parts of Srinagar. A procession led by senior APHC leader Yasin Malik was subjected to fierce baton charge and tear gas. Over 30 prominent leaders and workers of freedom movement including Yasin Malik, Javed Ahmed Mir and Shakil Bakhshi were taken into custody and kept in Kothi Bagh police station. Yasin Malik in an interview said, that Indian forces' barbaric activities have failed to break the will of Kashmiri people. The martyrdom day of Maqbool Butt was also observed in Azad Kashmir. The day was observed with a renewed pledge that the mission of the Kashmiri leader will continue till the Kashmiris are granted their legitimate right to self-determination. In Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, processions were taken out jointly by Jammu Kashmir Plebiscite Front, National Liberation Front, Liberation Front, Freedom Movement and Jammu Kashmir National Awami Party. Processionists marched through major city streets chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans besides holding placards, banners and party flags bearing slogans in favour of the liberation of occupied Kashmir from Indian clutches. All the processions later turned into a big rally at Mian Muhammad Road. Addressing the rally, the leaders of different parties said the best way to pay tribute to late Maqbool Butt is to renew pledge on his martyrdom day that his mission for the freedom of occuied Kashmir would be continued till the achievement of the victory. They said that great sacrifice given by the Shaheed Maqbool Butt is a beacon light for the Kashmiri people struggling for the freedom of their motherland from Indian yoke.

Benazir welcomes Vajpayee's visit

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (APP): Opposition Leader Benazir Bhutto on Thursday welcomed Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan on Feb 20. "We believe he is coming to show goodwill and we will welcome him in our country ," she told reporters here at the Iranian embassy reception. She hoped that in the demonstration of goodwill the Indian Prime Minister will keep in mind the women prisoners of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and take some confidence building measures. "It would go to the heart of the people of Pakistan if India began to de-escalate tension in the region through confidence building measures." Replying to a question she welcomed a US mediatory role for the just settlement of Kashmir dispute. "We would welcome the US mediatory role - even if behind the scenes - for a just settlement (of the dispute) and for peace in South Asia." Benazir Bhutto said, the Kashmir issue should be settled in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. She criticized the government role in parleys with India. The former prime minister underlined that a political settlement of the Kashmir dispute, acceptable to the APHC, should be sought. The PPP chairperson criticized the economic policies of the Government. She greeted the Iranians on celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in their country.