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India exploiting anti-terror sentiments, says Musharraf

Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations | September 24, 2003 21:44 IST
Last Updated: September 24, 2003 22:03 IST

India has been using the issue of cross-border terrorism to avoid a dialogue, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told the 58th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

New Delhi, he said, knows fully well that it is an indigenous freedom struggle. "India seeks to exploit the international anti-terrorist sentiment after 9/11 to de-legitimise the Kashmir freedom struggle," Musharraf charged.

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In an ongoing speech devoted almost entirely to Kashmir, Musharraf unleashed a barrage of accusations against India.

"It is," he said, "India that violates international law by refusing to implement the Security Council resolution on Kashmir."

Musharraf invited India to join Pakistan in a sustained dialogue aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue; he also proposed that the two countries announce a general cessation of violence in Kashmir, involving "reciprocal obligations and restraints on Indian forces and on the Kashmiri freedom fighters."

"I also invite India to join with Pakistan in a complete ceasefire along the Line of Control in Kashmir," Musharraf said.

While the Pakistan president touched briefly on Iraq -- to plead his inability to send troops for peace-keeping purposes -- and on Afghanistan -- to make the point that Pakistan was doing all it could to return the area to peace and stability -- the bulk of his speech was devoted to India and Kashmir.

If India is genuinely concerned about cross-border terrorism, Musharraf said, it should agree to a viable mechanism to monitor both sides of the border.

Musharraf said he was happy that India has stepped back from the "dangerous and failed" experiment of "coercive diplomacy", which it engaged in last year.

However, he said, despite some improvement in the "atmospherics", India continues to suppress the freedom struggle in Kashmir.

Musharraf said that besides addressing the Kashmir issue, India and Pakistan need to take measures to ensure mutual nuclear restraint and conventional arms balance, in the interests of sustainable security in South Asia.

He charged that India has embarked on a massive build-up of its conventional and non-conventional military capabilities, which could destabilise South Asia and erode strategic deterrence.

Musharraf's recent comments on India's growing ties with Israel, and its purchase of a missile weapons shield from that country, was reflected in the speech.

"Those powers that desire peace stability and security in South Asia and oppose proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must review their decisions to offer major strategic weapons systems to India," he said.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will address the UNGA on Thursday.

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