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If India takes one step, Islamabad will take two: Musharraf

K J M Varma in Islamabad | June 18, 2003 12:10 IST

Welcoming Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani's statement that compromises have to be made by both India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue, President Pervez Musharraf has said if New Delhi takes one step, Islamabad is willing to take two to normalise relations.

In an interview to BBC Asia Today programme telecast on Wednesday, Musharraf, who is currently in London, said he was willing to meet India more than half way. 

Hinting that there was a possibility that India and Pakistan could hold talks at a high-level during this year, Musharraf said, "I think there will be talks. Pakistani leadership certainly wants it. But it depends on other side, whether they want to extend the other hand also."

He said Pakistan was doing everything possible to prevent armed militants from crossing into Kashmir, but that he could not guarantee a total end to infiltration.

However, confronted with comments by the US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill and by US Secretary of State Colin Powell that infiltration continued in Kashmir, Musharraf said, "There is nobody in the world who can guarantee that not a single individual crossing across the border. What one can do is (to see that) that there is no government patronage. What one can additionally do is to put the army on alert and also to send messages all around to sympathisers not to undertake any kind of movement across the LoC and we will take strict action."

He said efforts to stop cross-border terrorism in Kashmir could not be sustained indefinitely. "You cannot keep a military on high alert for a long period and you would not like people to turn their guns against you and undermine your own government because you are selling out, because there is no reciprocation coming from the other side."

"As I said there is nothing happening (at the LoC). There is no official patronage. There is no government patronage on anything. I have been saying, let there be reciprocation.

Unless there is reciprocation, all that we try to do in Pakistan will come to a nought," he said.

"Because there are definitely elements, sympathetic towards whatever the freedom struggle in Kashmir and these very elements will start blaming the government for a sell out. Therefore, while the government takes action in Pakistan, there has to be reciprocation from the Indian side," he said.

He claimed that Pakistan had done its bit to try to build confidence after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee extended a 'hand of friendship'.

Replying to a question about why talks have been delayed despite Vajpayee's 'bold' offer of resumption of dialogue, Musharraf claimed that Pakistan has offered seven confidence building measures instead of India's two.

"We offered more far reaching than he did. We have not got a reply as yet. Therefore the ball is entirely in their court. We said let us start talking. We have appointed our high commissioner. He is going at the end of this month. Their high commissioner has not come as yet by the way," Musharraf claimed.

Asked about the prevailing mistrust in India due to his alleged involvement in Kargil and disruption of Lahore process and the steps to be taken by him to establish his credentials as a man of peace, Musharraf said, "Unfortunately these are aspersions cast by India."

"Yes there is lot of mistrust in India. All this is manipulated after the Agra failure. We went to Agra. We drafted a declaration. Prime Minister, Vajpayee, myself and the two foreign ministers, we drafted a declaration. We were about to sign it. Why did we not sign it? Is anyone asking why we did not sign it?" he asked.

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