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Bush must coerce all concerned to solve Kashmir: Musharraf
March 01, 2006 18:48 IST
As United States President George W Bush flew into the region on a visit to India and Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday that the American leader must use "all his influence" to "coerce" him, India and Kashmiris to resolve the Kashmir issue.
"Breakthrough (on Kashmir) will not come through President Bush's visit. All that I expect is his weight, his voice, pressurising all three groups - me, Indians and Kashmiris to resolve Kashmir dispute. Now is the ideal time to resolve it," Musharraf said in an interview to BBC.
After a 3-day visit to India begining Wednesday Bush will travel to Pakistan on Saturday. The General said while many issues, including steps taken to fight extremism and terrorism, would figure during discussions with Bush, his main expectation was that the US President should talk on Kashmir resolution. "We will discuss many things. Agenda is very large of course.
But basically terrorism and extremism, what my expectations are that we should be talking of Kashmir and its resolution and he should put his weight behind the resolution of the issue," the Pakistani leader said. "When I say weight - really he must coerce, he must use all his influence so that we sit on the table and resolve the dispute," Musharraf said.
His remarks came as Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid M Kasuri termed as "positive development" Bush's recent statement that US supported a solution that is acceptable to all sides.
Significantly, Musharraf in his interview also admitted that Taliban militants have been sneaking from Pakistan into Afghanistan to attack the Afghan and US forces, and suggested fencing and mining the border.
"Yes, indeed things are happening from Pakistan. They will go across, I know that. We will never deny that and we are operating against them. We are taking all possible measures," Musharraf said. "But if (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai thinks everything is happening from Pakistan I totally disagree. He should put his own house in order. A lot is happening in Afghanistan. More is happening from Afghanistan itself and less is happening from Pakistan," he asserted.
He said, "We are putting our house in order and he should think of his own house instead of blaming Pakistan. If he thinks everyone is crossing from Pakistan I have been saying that let us fence the border and let us mine the border. "I have also started saying that. We are experts at mining. They should mine the border on their side. We will fence it on our side. If that was alright I am for it, so that they will not be allowed to go across at all and then let us see what is happening in Afghanistan, why do not they agree to this?"
Karzai, who recently visited Islamabad, rejected fencing as the solution saying the two countries shared close ethnic and friendly ties. Afghan officials also say they will not accept fencing as the 2,240-km border called Durand Line is disputed, while Pakistan says it is a settled issue. About recent US missile strikes on a village in a tribal agency - ostensibly to hit Al-Qaeda number two al Zawahiri, Musharraf said, "We should not paint the situation black or white based on one incident."
"Yes, there was no coordination there and we have told US that the arrangement was that we operate on our side of the border and US and Afghan forces on their side. There is total coordination on intelligence and even operational level and communications." Musharraf also dismissed recent street protests against his military rule as "total nonsense."
The government has cracked down heavily on rallies organised by the main Islamic opposition parties. The rallies, which were called against the publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in European papers, got increasingly directed against Musharraf and his pro-US policies. He said some "vested interests" tried to politicise the cartoon issue and "we know who they are," adding that Pakistan was striving to get blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad banned internationally. One of the protesters' demands was that the President give up his dual position as head of state and chief of the army.
To which, Musharraf said, "It is total nonsense. People do not want me to resign at all. It is this small group trying to politicise it. How is the blasphemy connected to my resignation, what is the linkage of the two?" Claiming that he restored democracy in Pakistan, he said the National Assembly has elected him with two-thirds majority. The Senate and provincial assemblies endorsed his election. Musharraf said he did not expect any pressure on this issue from Bush."I am the biggest proponent of democracy. The biggest gauge is the people of Pakistan and I know 200 per cent that the vast majority are with me. Do not be misled by few thousand who come on the streets," he said, adding that if the vast majority was not with him he would quit himself.