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Musharraf refuses to rule out another Kargil
June 13, 2003 17:09 IST
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has refused to rule out another Kargil-like situation developing in the future.
In an interview to NDTV, the first given by the Pakistan president to an Indian news channel since Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's latest peace initiative, Musharraf told Prannoy Roy: "Prime Minister [Mir Zafarullah Khan] Jamali may be a better person for him to meet, but if Mr Vajpayee is willing to meet me, I would be more than willing to meet him and lead the talks."
The interview will be telecast on Saturday night.
The man identified with the Kargil intrusion in 1999, refused to accept that the war had been against Pakistan's self-interest and was a mistake and perhaps for the first time publicly admitted that Pakistani troops were involved.
"Kargil was a decision taken by the mujahideen, and we got involved because of the action taken by the Indian troops," he said.
Significantly, in the face of persistent questions, Musharraf refused to commit himself to avoiding Kargil-like situations in the future and said: "No. Let me tell you that before Kargil, Kashmir was a dead issue. To avoid Kargils, we need to resolve disputes and much depends on how we proceed on the peace track."
He said there was no change in Pakistan's position that Kashmir was the core dispute between India and Pakistan. "We can talk of trade and economy and other issues, but no talks will succeed unless the core issue is addressed," Musharraf said and added "we don't trust you when you say that we should focus on trade. We see it as an attempt to sideline the main issue of Kashmir."
Refusing to acknowledge last year's election in Kashmir as free and fair, he said: "I am very clear on one thing. The people of Kashmir do not want to be part of India."
On the American proposal for soft borders between the two countries, Musharraf said it could only be a small step forward. "People to people contact can be useful, but it cannot be a final solution," he added.
The Pakistan president contradicted himself on cricketing ties with India when he said: "I would like cricket and all sporting ties to resume..but cricket is a trivial issue. And let me tell you that my players don't want to play with India."
Asked if he had any regrets, the general said he regretted the way democracy and parliament had emerged in Pakistan after the elections and said that Pakistan had failed to evolve a functioning democracy.
On his own referendum, he admitted it was a mistake.
He said Pakistan was ready to send troops to Iraq if required. "Yes, if we are asked for troops, we will certainly consider sending them. We would like to."
Describing the recent imposition of Sharia law in the North West Frontier Province as worrisome, Musharraf said he will intervene and dismiss the government if it moved towards Talibanisation of NWFP. "I am for a moderate, progressive and dynamic Islamic state."
The Musharaff interview can be seen at following times: 0930 pm Saturday on NDTV 24x7 and 10:30 pm Saturday on NDTV India.
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