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Pak for resolution of Kashmir issue: Zardari
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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March 28, 2008 18:18 IST
Last Updated: March 28, 2008 18:57 IST

Pakistan will move forward to resolve the Kashmir issue with India through a peaceful dialogue and the nation's new government will continue confidence-building measures initiated by the previous regime, Pakistan People's Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari said on Friday.

"We are totally (involved) with Kashmir. We intend to solve the problem and not just to (do) shadow-boxing for it," Zardari told reporters after a meeting with People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti.

Asked if the new coalition government led by the PPP will continue the confidence building measures initiated by the previous administration, Zardari said, "We want not only CBMs but action. We want to move forward and to solve this issue. The PPP and the democratic forces of Pakistan have always said that democracies do not fight wars. Our message is of peace and we want peace. We want peace in the region and along all our borders."

"We want the guns to rust and our future generations should not have to make the sacrifices that the current and past generations have made," Zardari added.

Further progress could be made towards resolving the issue if Kashmiris from both sides of the border could freely meet their kin.

The true potential of the youth on both sides could be achieved if they were given a pen or a business instead of the guns they are wielding, he said.

The PPP's Kashmir policy and the existing CBMs will be taken to Parliament after discussions with the party's "senior partners," Zardari said.

"We will examine these and take the Kashmir policy forward. We remember (PPP founder) Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's dreams and Benazir Bhutto's [Images] sacrifices for Kashmir, the PPP's role for Kashmir's jihadi brothers and other friends and we will take them forward. We have to bring in peace," he added.

Zardari said, "We have always said that dialogue is a political tool that we have to use. We've always believed in dialogue under any and all conditions. PPP has put Kashmir on its agenda since (the) Simla (Agreement) and since 1988."

Sources said that during the 30-minute meeting, Mufti expressed reservations about Zardari's recent comments that relations between India and Pakistan should not be held hostage by the Kashmir issue, which should be set aside for a future generation to resolve.

Zardari expanded on his earlier comments made in an interview and explained that the PPP wanted violence to end.

He explained that Pakistan had been affected by violence perpetrated by militant groups and the new government wanted to usher in peace, sources said.

The PPP remained committed to the Kashmir issue, which also found mention in manifesto, sources quoted him.

Mufti told the reporters that steps should be taken to build on the progress made in the past four to five years through the peace process in Kashmir.

"Considerable progress has been made on the Kashmir issue and the time is appropriate to resolve the issue instead of putting it aside," she said.

"I think Kashmir has its own individuality. Relations between India and Pakistan do have an impact on the Kashmir situation, but it's not the only thing. Kashmir is growing in itself. It's like a mini-state in a country. So you just cannot stop the peace process and put it on the backburner because if you put it there again you will have to start from zero," she added.

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