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Kashmir is not the core issue, says India

March 14, 2004 19:47 IST

India on Sunday rejected Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's contention that the joint statement issued after he met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Islamabad in January made any reference to Jammu and Kashmir as a 'central' or 'core issue'.

"There is no reference (in the joint statement) to any so-called central or core issue, but to addressing all bilateral issues, including J&K," the External Affairs Ministry said.

While addressing the India Today conclave via satellite last night, Musharraf had contended that there was a marked change in India, which had accepted Pakistan as one of the parties to the 'dispute' and that New Delhi had agreed on the centrality of the J&K issue in the joint statement.

"We have carefully examined the comments made by the Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf yesterday. The language of the January 6 Islamabad joint press statement is clear and unambiguous. It delineates how the process has to be sustained and taken forward. Violence, hostility and terrorism must be prevented," the MEA said in a statement.

It said the Pakistan president had reassured Vajpayee that he would not permit territory under Pakistan's control to be used to support terrorism in any manner.

"Any unilateral interpretation of the joint press statement is not conducive to building trust, taking the process forward; nor is public rhetoric, which is also contrary to the understandings and restraints observed since January," the ministry said.

India also charged him with 'double standards' in describing the recent violent attack on him as 'terrorism' while strikes on J&K assembly and bid on the life of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as a 'freedom fight'. "These are clearly not tenable," the statement said.

To Musharraf's assertion that confidence-building measures have to move in tandem with the resolution of the J&K issue, the statement said, "The reality of the vast goodwill among the people of the two countries, clearly manifested today, and being further consolidated through the CBMs, needs to be acknowledged and built upon.

"Contrary efforts would not be in keeping with the sentiments of the people in both the countries," the statement said.

It said India is determined to continue with the process initiated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in April last year, and on the basis of the framework agreed upon.

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