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SSSHHHHH! Hush, Hush, Niaz Naik in Delhi again

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    SSSHHHHH! Hush, Hush, Niaz Naik in Delhi again


    (Cut and paste from indian express)

    NEW DELHI, SEPT 28: What was Niaz Naik, former Pak Foreign Secretary, and widely believed to have been the secret go-between in the back-channel Kargil diplomacy between India and Pakistan, doing in the Capital on Tuesday?

    While Naik refused to answer the question, the Pak High Commission said that it was in connection with ``Track Two diplomacy'' and had nothing to do with the Nawaz Sharif government.

    During the Kargil crisis, Naik had held ``back-channel'' talks with R K Mishra, chairman of the The Observer group, and had come to New Delhi in June and met Prime Minister A B Vajpayee.

    Naik was recently quoted in the Pakistani press as having said that the secret negotiations had almost led to the settlement of the Kashmir dispute but New Delhi backed out at the last moment saying there was a caretaker government in charge. Naik, however, denied that he had ever said this.

    But Pak Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz confirmed that talks were on and this included a solution to Kashmir and defusing the Kargil crisis.

    According to Talat Masood, a former general of the Pakistan Army who accompanied Naik, they were here as part of a conference organised by the Collective Action of South Asian Cooperation (CASAC). ``We were here to work out the various modalities of a conference we are going to have in Kathmandu in December,'' he said.

    Naik and Masood checked into the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on Monday, in total secrecy and left equally discreetly this afternoon, to take an early evening flight. Naik was quite annoyed when he was photographed by The Indian Express.

    When contacted, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Brajesh Mishra denied any knowledge of Naik being in New Delhi.

    According to Pakistan High Commission spokesman Mufti Jameerudin Ahmed, the High Commission had no knowledge of it. ``It must have been regarding the Track Two diplomatic process,'' he said.

    Naik's last visit to the Capital in the last week of June had created a considerable amount of controversy as the secrecy surrounding it was blown by a leak to the media in Islamabad.

    Masood, who has criticised Pakistan's Kargil operation in an article in The Dawn, said that the Pakistani establishment was waiting for a government to form in India so that the political process could lead to a resolution of the Kashmir issue.

    ``The army does not see any solution to the Kashmir problem in the near future, so there is the frustration,'' said Masood.

    But Masood believes that `saner elements' will prevail on both sides of the border. He said: ``It is essential that we do not carry the Kashmir baggage into the next millennium.''
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