Forty Years Ago, January 28, 1980: Indo-France talks
After three days of talks between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the French president, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, India and France decided to take all necessary initiatives to defuse tensions threatening peace and stability in several sensitive regions. The decision to take initiatives is contained in a joint declaration the two leaders signed in New Delhi. The declaration, though, does not spell out the nature of initiatives: It merely says the two countries will remain in close consultation with each other. However, the joint declaration clearly shows that the Soviet armed intervention in Afghanistan, as well as its after-effects on the international situation, took most of the time of President Giscard and Mrs Gandhi during the talks.
The new regime is stripping Afghanistan of leftist slogans and pictures, apparently as part of its efforts to pacify Muslims who have rebelled against the country’s Marxist revolution. Signs proclaiming worker solidarity are being painted over or removed, portraits of Afghan leaders past and present are disappearing from public display. A decision by the country’s politburo published in Kabul New Times said signs that have a “leftist character and are not in conformity with the present stage of national and democratic revolution should be collected and disposed of”.
Zia and Kashmir
K S Bajpai, India’s ambassador in Islamabad, left the Islamic conference of foreign ministers and lodged a verbal protest with the Pakistan Foreign Office against a reference to Kashmir in the inaugural speech of Pakistan president, General Zia-ul- Haq. Zia did not mention Kashmir in the rest of the speech even though he referred to the people of Palestine twice. Nor did Agha Shahi, adviser on foreign affairs, who was elected the chairman of the conference, say anything about Kashmir although he spoke about Palestine at length.