New Delhi--It was a golden chance for Pakistan to patch up with India in a number of ways, but Presideitn Musharraf showing off his diginity, refused the relief offer of India.
Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf has been blamed for missing the chance to mend fences with India, in the wake of the devastating 8th October earthquake by refusing India's offer to put helicopters at the general's disposal.
According to the British daily The Telegraph, it took ''a while to jolt General Musharraf out of accustomed ways of thinking on one of the great political faultlines of our day.''
Islamabad's refusal to India's offer on Sunday to put helicopters at the general's disposal ''was manifest nonsense. Then it came up with the feeble excuse that there could be no question of joint rescue operations because there was no population on the Line of Control.''
However, finally it did agree to accept a 25-tonne planeload of relief supplies.
''The greatest natural disaster in Pakistan's history offered a rare chance to warm the slight thaw in relations with India. By first prevaricating, then accepting only limited help from a neighbour with vast resources, Gen Musharraf has displayed a depressing lack of imagination'', the paper said.
In another case at point, the Pakistan High Commission in London refused to grant a visa to Krishnan Guru-Murthy, a Channel 4 News presenter, because his parents were born in India.
The paper says it reflects the ''small-mindedness at the highest level''.
The Telegraph said that although Pakistan has not totally snubbed India's offer, it should have made much quicker and more extensive capital out of New Delhi's offer.
''With a faultline like that across the sub-continent, you need leaders with the political courage to seize the moment. In failing to do so, Gen Musharraf has let down the earthquake victims and damaged the long-term interests of his country.''
India to send 25 tons of relief to Pak today
The first consignment of 25 tonnes of emergency relief supplies from India for quake-hit areas of Pakistan will be airlifted later in the day even as Islamabad rebuffed India’s offer to assist in badly-affected places along the LoC on the Pak side.
Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmad Khan met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and apprised him of the devastation caused by the quake.
Khan met Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran earlier then his meeting with Singh.
The Prime Minister described the occurrence as a "great humanitarian crisis", adding that "our hearts go out to the people of entire villages and communities which have been devastated by this natural disaster".
Briefing the media on Monday, Saran said that Singh directed that a consignment of relief supplies including tents, plastic sheets, blankets, mattresses, food items and a variety of medicines and medical supplies be put together on an urgent basis and delivered to Pakistan at the earliest.
He informed that the concerned agencies were already at work in organizing an airlift of these items by Tuesday evening subject to clearances being obtained.
Answering a query, whether India has offered its assistance in areas along the LOC on the Pakistani side which have been completely cut off from that end but can be reached from the Indian side, Saran replied in the affirmative
He added that if Pakistan could inform India about the locations of the areas where they would like India to provide relief supplies across the LOC and even send across medical personnel, “we would be very happy to organise that."
No joint Pak-India relief operation along LoC : Pakistan
However, Pakistan has ruled out any joint operation along the Line of Control (LoC) to provide relief to thousands of people affected by Saturday’s devastating earthquake.
[inline:1]''I don’t think there is possibility of any joint operations,'' Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said in a press conference in Islamabad.
Commenting on Indian External Affairs Mministry statement describing Kashmir as an integral part of India, she said Kashmir is an internationally recognized 'disputed' territory.
''It (Kashmir) is also recognized to be a 'dispute' by the UN Security Council resolutions and the entire international community also considers it as a 'dispute','' she said, adding Kashmir is also a key agenda item in the ongoing composite dialogue process between Pakistan and India.