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Resolve Kashmir in spirit of Lahore Declaration: Sharif
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January 29, 2009 20:49 IST

Hoping that the spirit of the Lahore [Images] Declaration will be restored sooner or later, former Pakistan premier Nawaz Sharif [Images] on Thursday said the 1999 agreement should be made the basis of the resolution of Kashmir issue.

"Kashmir is a core issue between Pakistan and India and this issue needs to be resolved in the same spirit as was expressed between the two prime ministers when (then Indian prime minister) A B Vajpayee came to Pakistan and signed the Lahore Declaration," Sharif told mediapersons after meeting a delegation of Kashmiri separatist leaders.

Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, said other events had overtaken the spirit of the Lahore Declaration but he remained hopeful that it will be restored sooner or later.

He added: "But this issue is the core issue, this issue needs to be resolved in right earnest and also in line with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir."

The Lahore Declaration was signed by Vajpayee and Sharif in early 1999, shortly before the Kargil [Images] war. The hostilities were triggered by the occupation of strategic heights in Kargil by militants and Pakistan army [Images] troops.

Senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Bhat, who led the separatist delegation that called on Sharif at his residence in Raiwind, said there was no alternative available to India and Pakistan other than talking and resolving the dispute on Kashmir.

"The dispute on Kashmir is a flashpoint and it can ignite a flare-up in the subcontinent and that would be a total disaster," Bhat said, adding that the "ghost of atomic war" should be banished from South Asia by resolving the Kashmir issue.

Bhat also said all parties involved in the issue, including Kashmiris, must create space for each other so that they can move forward. Asked about the policies followed by former president Pervez Musharraf [Images] to resolve the Kashmir issue, Sharif replied: "I don't think that Musharraf had any Kashmir policy. And the actions that he committed were against the spirit of the resolution of the Kashmir issue."

Sharif has often claimed that he had no knowledge of the Pakistan army's campaign to occupy strategic mountains in Kargil, a contention dismissed by Musharraf. 

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