February 16, 1981, Forty Years Ago: Atal wanted talks

Both Morarji Desai and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when in power, had told Pakistan that they were willing to hold discussions on Kashmir “whenever you want, wherever you want” according to Agha Shahi, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, who said this in a tape-recorded interview to Kuldip Nayar. He added that Vajpayee had made the offer when he visited Pakistan and Desai repeated it when Shahi visited India in 1979. The Pakistan Foreign Minister said the reason for not pursuing the offer at that time was that “one has to constantly consider what is an appropriate atmosphere and when would be the right climate, because we just do not want a discussion to take place and end in a deadlock.” Shahi gave the impression that the same offer held good during PM Gandhi’s regime also. “So the only thing that remains for the governments to decide is what and when they should negotiate”.

Kisans in Delhi

Thousands of kisans started arriving in Delhi for the Congress (I) kisan rally tomorrow. They came in special trains, trucks, buses and even tractors. Between yesterday and this evening, more than 86 special trains carrying kisans arrived at various railway stations in Delhi. The running of special trains has completely disrupted the schedule of regular trains. Railway officials were not available for comments on the delays.

Janata meet

The five-day national convention of the Janata Party ended on an optimistic note with the party observing that it had gained substantial strength after its downfall and this had to be effectively used to fight emerging authoritarian trends. The party also pledged to work for a new social order in which the glaring disparities between the rich and the poor would be diminished.

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