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Musharraf for 'middle path' on Kashmir issue
K J M Varma in Islamabad
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September 14, 2007 15:51 IST

Seeking greater momentum in the Indo-Pak peace process, President Pervez Musharraf [Images] has said that both countries needed to move away from their stated positions to find a 'middle path' to resolve the Kashmir issue.

"We should move away from the stated positions. We will not move away until they do. This is our stand. If both sides move away from stated positions then we can look for middle path to resolve Kashmir. In my view there is no doubt progress but there need to increase its speed," he said.

Answering questions in an interactive programme on the state-run PTV on Thursday night, Musharraf disagreed with the perception that efforts to improve relations between the two countries have come to a halt.

'Where has it stopped? No it has not stopped. It is moving on. It is not going as fast as it should have been,' Musharraf said.

He said relations between India and Pakistan improved after India brought about a 'sea change' in its Kashmir policy, recognising it as a 'dispute' and a 'core issue.'

'We made our stand clear (on Kashmir). Kashmir is the core. There is no doubt. We have also made them to agree that Kashmir is the core. Earlier they never used to discuss Kashmir. They never used to recognise it as dispute. It is our diplomacy that made them to recognise it as dispute,' Musharraf said, while replying to questions on the India-Pak dialogue to resolve Kashmir issue.

He also said there is positive response from India for his proposals to resolve Kashmir issue.

'I do not agree that there is no positive response (from India). As I said they never used to recognise Kashmir is a dispute. They recognised it. Talks are going on. Talks were held with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and he is saying that Kashmir needs to be resolved. This is a sea change. So please understand,' Musharraf said.

Stating that there is a 'lot of improvement' in the ties between India and Pakistan as a result of the 'progress' made on Kashmir issue, Musharraf said, "There is progress in talks but we need to pursue it more strongly."

Crediting Pakistan's diplomacy for achieving the change in India's stand on Kashmir, he rejected suggestions that Islamabad had 'given in' to New Delhi.

'If you view it from the point of resolution, our diplomatic stand and official stand is also the same. Many people say that we have given in but they have not given anything,' he said.

'What have we given in? We have not given anything. Our officials stand that Kashmir issue should be resolve through a plebiscite in accordance with UN resolutions of 1948. It remains to be the same,' he said.

Due to the 'simultaneous progress' made on Kashmir, 'there is a lot of improvement in our ties with India. There is a mutual benefit. Our industry gets lot of raw materials from India and they goods go from here to there,' he said.

He said 'there is no doubt' that if relations between India and Pakistan become normal, both the countries will benefit but the trade ties can only be normalised if the Kashmir issue is resolved.

'Core issue needs to be resolved...The checks are there on our relations because of this,' he said.

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