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Time ideal for resolving Kashmir: Musharraf
June 10, 2004 13:26 IST
Asserting the time is now ideal for India and Pakistan to resolve all issues between them, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said sincerity, flexibility and boldness are required to find a "viable, genuine and lasting" settlement to the "central Kashmir issue" within a "reasonable time-line".
He said Kashmir was not a complex issue and the leaderships of both the countries have to show maturity, sincerity, develop confidence and trust in each other to settle it in a "reasonable time-line".
Also see: The SAARC Summit, 2004
He, however, did not elaborate on what he meant by "time-line".
Observing that India will find Pakistan sincere and responsive for any initiative to improve relations, Musharraf said, "The issue of Kashmir is at the centrestage, we cannot deny it, it must be resolved in an equitable and honourable manner, acceptable to India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris."
"If Pakistan and India can settle the Kashmir issue in accordance with the aspirations of Kashmiris, a new chapter in our troubled history will undoubtedly begin with a win-win for all."
"The leaders have to be flexible enough to reach mutually acceptable solutions to previously intractable disputes and bold enough to bulldoze all opposition and risks en route to peace," he said, adding the present time is ideal for the resolution of all outstanding issues.
"I don't agree at all that it is such a complex issue which is unresolvable. Everyone knows what is the matter, everyone absolutely comprehends what is the solution," he said at a concluding session of a seminar on 'Prospects of
Peace, Stability and Prosperity in South Asia' in Islamabad last night.
Musharraf referred to his four-point approach towards the resolution of Kashmir, which includes commencement of talks; acceptance of the centrality of Kashmir; taking off all solutions unacceptable to any of the three parties; and the choice of the most feasible and acceptable solution out of the remaining options.
"A solution will emerge if all sides are mindful of the problem, if all parties, especially Kashmiris, are given an opportunity to have their say and are associated with a credible, sincere and serious quest for a final settlement
between Pakistan and India," he said.
Musharraf said since independence, the list of disputes between Pakistan and India has been growing. Besides Jammu and Kashmir the two countries are also committed to hold talks over Siachen, Baglihar Dam, Wullar Barrage, Sir Creek Issue and now nuclear CBMs. "Most of these issues will hopefully, figure in the composite dialogue with India," Musharraf said.
He said the issues relating to the Indus Water Treaty could be resolved through a sincere application of the treaty's dispute settlement mechanism.
Musharraf said progress on confidence building measures cannot be delinked from progress on dialogue on all issues.
"Both have to progress together," he said, adding that the CBMs must not be considered as a substitute for tackling
The objectives of peace, security and economic development can be realised only if the process of composite dialogue is taken to fruition, Musharraf said.
"I am hopeful that composite, structured and sustained dialogue agreed to between India and Pakistan on January 6,
2004, would stay on course and meet the various deadlines," he said.
Recently, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri suggested that the current setup, in which Musharraf was the president as well the chief of army, was ideal to reach a settlement on the Kashmir issue.
Musharraf has committed to quit as army chief by the end of the year, though in recent weeks he has indicated that
he has second thoughts over it. The foreign secretaries of both countries would meet later this month to discuss Kashmir and other issues, and their meeting would be followed by a meeting between the two foreign ministers in August.
In his address followed by an interaction, Musharraf said he did not agree with the proposition that the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute would take a long time. "It would take a long time if we lack sincerity. If we are prepared to meet and deal with the problems with sincerity, it will not take much time."
Hoping the engagement with India on nuclear CBMs will be productive, he said both countries should work towards
building mutual confidence to avert the remotest chance of a nuclear conflict.
"The concept of even a limited conventional war in a nuclearised South Asia is untenable. We must, therefore, give more attention to reinforcing and expanding the conventional CBMs."
"We have even announced a unilateral reduction in our force by 50,000," Musharraf claimed.
He said Pakistan would be willing and happy to exchange views with India on the "non-use of force" to translate the principle of international law and United Nations charter into reality.
Reverting to Kashmir, he said Islamabad is mindful of the difficulties posed by very rigid mindsets in the past. "We must also be prepared to counter the hurdles being created by extremists in the path of moderates towards peace."
Musharraf said the seminar was timely as it was being held soon after the new government led by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh had taken over in New Delhi.
"As we warmly welcome him [Manmohan Singh] and extend our heartiest congratulations to him for holding this high office at such challenging and interesting times, we must also pay tribute to the outgoing prime minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for his sagacity and statesmanship, and his commitment to peace in South Asia."
Musharraf also complimented Congress president, Sonia Gandhi for emerging as a new statesperson on the horizon of India and South Asia.
Commenting on the situation in the region, he said, "We see an upheaval, turmoilm in Afghanistan and Kashmir. If we
can resolve these two issues, we will surely strike at the root of extremism and militancy."