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Solve real issues to counter extremism: Kasuri
Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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July 12, 2006 14:25 IST

After condemning the Mumbai train blasts, Pakistan has said the 'best way' of dealing with extremism in South Asia is to tackle 'real issue' of Jammu and Kashmir [Images].

Noting that there has been progress in Indo-Pak composite dialogue process to resolve bilateral issues, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmoud Kasuri, however, said not much progress has been made on Kashmir problem.

"If you look at it positively, there has been more progress in the second round than in the first round. But on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir we have not made much progress. There have been some confidence-building measures but even those are half-hearted," he said.

"Incremental approach is good but now we must tackle real issues. And this is the best way of tackling extremism in South Asia," Kasuri, who is on a visit to US, told an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace on Tuesday.

"We need to take steps in which extremism is discouraged. Extremism in one religion leads to extremism in the other," he said.

Kasuri said the Pakistan government had already condemned in the strongest possible language the 'ghastly' Mumbai train blasts, which left at least 190 people dead and over 600 injured, and he was 'adding his voice' to that.

In spite of the two rounds of composite dialogue process and some progress registered, there was 'perpetual tension' over Kashmir issue, he said.

Kasuri argued that the international community has for too long been focussed on conflict management in South Asia.

"Now is the time to shift the paradigm and work for conflict resolution," the minister said while welcoming US President George W Bush's [Images] 'commitment of US support for a Kashmir solution acceptable to all sides'.

On an optimistic note, he referred to the situation as the glass being 'half full and not half empty', and said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and President Pervez Musharraf [Images] 'have a good personal chemistry'.

"We have had two rounds of the composite dialogue. There has been progress and as politicians we should take advantage of that. When you have an improvement in the atmosphere that is the time you should strike when the iron is hot," Kasuri remarked in response to a query.

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