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'I dream about Pak being India's force multiplier'
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | May 22, 2008 14:48 IST
The PPP, however, suggested that any cuts in the army's deployment in Jammu and Kashmir could be compensated by India through deployment of more paramilitary forces and police which would be 'more humane' and help in addressing the '60-year-old wound' of the Kashmir issue.
"We would appreciate the de-escalation of Indian troops in Kashmir and bringing normalcy in Kashmir. The army by design, wherever it is, by its nature is crude -- whether it is your army or any other army," PPP Chairman Asif Ali Zardari told PTI in a wide-ranging interview.
Zardari, who led the party to victory in the February 18 elections after his wife Benazir Bhutto [Images] was assassinated in December last year, responded to questions on the Kashmir issue, Indo-Pak composite dialogue process and the controversy over reinstatement of judges.
The PPP chief said his 'model for India-Pakistan relations' is to create economic zones along the border, use Pakistan's coal reserves in Thar to generate power that could be exported to India and even acquire gas from 'friendly Muslim countries' that could be supplied to India.
Replying to a question on how Pakistan and India could build trust and confidence while trying to resolve the dragging Kashmir dispute, Zardari said the army's presence in Kashmir 'is increasing the divide rather than patching it up'.
Zardari said, 'my dream is that Pakistan is the force multiplier for India. We had one country, one nation.'
"If you had a police force there, even if it was 500,000-strong, police training is different and they have to go back to their wives. They don't have to go back to their cantonments and they live in the normal world," the 52-year-old leader said.
"Whereas the cantonment world is a different world, so they are a different species. You have a war machine living there, so there are lots of reactions to those people sitting there. So India can move out the army and move in paramilitary forces.
"They will be more humane. There is already a 60-year-old wound and you scratch it... even that erupts into a reaction."
After talks with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in Islamabad to review the composite dialogue process, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said on Wednesday that Pakistan was ready for 'grand reconciliation' on outstanding issues with India, which need to be resolved through dialogue with 'self respect and dignity'.
India and Pakistan have observed a ceasefire along the frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir since November 2003. During the talks, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to 'safeguard' the truce in the wake several incidents of firing on Indian troops.
Asked if he saw economics as being the driving force in bilateral relations, Zardari replied, "Yes, I can't afford 180 million people with the poverty level today, but I have got water, millions of acres of virgin lands� I can feed India and the world."
This would facilitate people-to-people contacts, boost economic cooperation and even help improve the atmosphere for resolving the Kashmir issue, Zardari said.