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India Denies Visa to Former Pakistan President


Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan, talks during a public rally of his new political party, the 'All Pakistan Muslim League' in Birmingham, England (File Photo)

Pervez Musharraf, the former President of Pakistan, talks during a public rally of his new political party, the 'All Pakistan Muslim League' in Birmingham, England (File Photo)

Indian officials have confirmed that former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been denied a visa. They did not give a reason.

Mr. Musharraf had been invited to speak at a seminar organized by business professionals in New Delhi.

Several of Mr. Musharraf's supporters, who were planning to visit India with him, were also denied a visa. The former Pakistani military ruler, who lives in Britain, is attempting a political comeback and launched a political party in October.

Foreign affairs observers say that India wants to avoid providing a platform for Mr. Musharraf's political ambitions, which they believe would be sending a wrong message to the civilian government in Islamabad.

"With Mr. Musharraf threatening to go back to Pakistan to start a political career, the Indian government is not very comfortable with helping him enlarge his political portfolio or image," said Bharat Karnad, a strategic affairs analyst with the independent Center for Policy Research in New Delhi.

New Delhi has also been irked by Mr. Musharraf's recent comments that India is responsible for creating unrest in Pakistan's south-western Balochistan province, and that India is trying to create an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan.

Mr. Musharraf was army chief when India and Pakistan came close to a fourth war in 1999. Later, when he became Pakistan's military ruler, the South Asian rivals embarked on a peace process which lowered tensions and led to a ceasefire along their tense Kashmir border.

That ceasefire is still holding. But the peace process remains stalled since the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, which India says were planned by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Karnad says New Delhi is unlikely to resume a full-fledged peace dialogue with its rival until its repeated calls to clamp down on groups directing terror at India are heeded.

"There has to be something on the ground is what Delhi wants by way of reassurance before it gets into thinking of resuming the composite dialogue," added Karnad. "There is no give on Pakistan's part, so there is unlikely to be any movement in Delhi."

The top Indian demand is that Islamabad speed up the trial of the Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives it accuses of planning the Mumbai attacks.

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