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Rediff.com  » News » Wrong vibes from India: Musharraf

Wrong vibes from India: Musharraf

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November 20, 2004 18:24 IST
Irked by India's assertions that it would not accept redrawing of borders, President Pervez Musharraf  talked tough on Kashmir Saturday, saying Pakistan would not give its "maximalist position" on plebiscite and implementation of UN resolutions unless New Delhi met it "half way".

"I do not not believe in mincing words," the General told a conference of journalists from SAARC nations before voicing his obvious unhappiness over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remarks during his recent to Jammu and Kashmir.

Lately the "vibes coming to us" were not encouraging, he said, referring  to statements emanating from India that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of the country.

No redrawing of border: Manmohan

Recalling his recent proposal of demilitarising seven regions of Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control followed by a change in their status, Musharraf said Islamabad was being told that India would listen to such proposals if given formally.

"It is not a song one has to listen. We expect to be talking. We expect answers," he told the fourth conference of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA).

"We have the courage to go for a solution. Let both sides show that courage," Musharraf said.

But "we would like to meet India half way. We will not move all the way. India must also move half way. We will leave our maximalist position if India does."

At the outset of his 30-minute address to the conference, Musharraf dismissed the Indian view of him as a "unifocal man" but said Kashmir remained the core issue.

More reports:  Jammu and Kashmir

Elaborating on his Kashmir proposal---which involves demilitarization of the so-called seven regions of Jammu and Kashmir, five on the Indian side of the LoC and the two in Pak-occupied Kashmir---Musharraf said the proposal had not been made on the spur of the moment but after careful thought.

He had not offered a solutions, but only "laid a direction", by identifying the geographic, ethnic and religious realities of Jammu and Kashmir.

Delhi wary over Musharraf plan

Five of these regions were in Indian-controlled Kashmir while "Azad Kashmir" and Northern Areas were with Pakistan.

He said he had suggested identification of these regions, their demilitarisation and change of status. He had not suggested demilitarisation or the whole or part of a region. Discussions on the proposal could lead to solutions, he added.

"There are options which ought to be acceptable to all the three parties--India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir," he said.

These options would be discussed between Prime Ministers Shaukat Aziz and Manmohan Singh when they meet in the next few days and when he himself later meets Singh, he said.

Atmosphere conducive for talks: Natwar

Extending a special welcome to journalists present at the conference from "Indian-held Kashmir as we call it", the President said he could not imagine a solution without Kashmiris, who would have to be involved sooner or later although "I don't know when". But "we cannot reach a solution over their heads."

On the Indian proposal for a bus service between the two parts of Kashmir, the General said that Pakistan favoured such a service but travel could not be on the basis of passports as Kashmir was a disputed area. However, there was a forward movement on this proposal.

He made it clear that Indo-Pak Confidence Building Measures and the dialogue process would have to move in tandem.

Kashmir remained the core issue over which "we have fought three wars and we have been killing each other everyday on the LoC", he reiterated.

Earlier, he also announced that members of South Asian Federation of Media Association were free to go to any place in the country, including the border areas, as there was "nothing to hide from anyone".

"I am a firm believer in liberalisation of media. We have to have freedom of speech and access to information and places," he said.

"We have to liberalise print and electronic media. If one wants to have a mature media, give them freedom. Those who want to restrict movement have something to hide, we do not have anything to hide."

More reports from: Pakistan

M K Razdan in Islamabad
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