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Pak PM hedges on plebiscite

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January 24, 2006 11:54 IST
Visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz hedged when asked whether Pakistan is still hung up on the more than five decades-old UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, which the US has also made clear is obsolete.

During a question and answer session that followed his address to the Heritage Foundation—the leading conservative think tank in Washington Aziz said, "The UN has already issued resolutions when the tension took place in Kashmir for allowing a plebiscite to determine the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people."

But being scrupulously circumspect, he declared, "Pakistan wants a resolution of this dispute peacefully and whatever the outcome of the resolution, should reflect and respect the aspirations and wishes of the Kashmiri people."

Aziz argued that for Pakistan, the Kashmir dispute, "is not just an issue of territory but of principle -- the democratic principle of self-determination, which is the inalienable right of the Kashmiri people."

The growing rapprochement between Pakistan and India "and the congenial international environment provide a unique opportunity for our two countries to work for a solution of the Kashmir dispute that respects the aspirations and wishes of the Kashmiri people," he added.

"We therefore emphasize the need to involved the Kashmiri people in the dialogue process," and noted that Islamabad had "suggested ideas of self-governance and demilitarization that resonate with the views of Kashmiri leaders and intellectuals as well as members of civil society there."

Obviously in an attempt to counter criticism from Kashmiri activists such as Yasin Malik, the chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, who have implied that Pakistan has sold out the Kashmiris, Aziz asserted that  "the attainment of a final settlement shall require a solution, which is acceptable to all three stakeholders -- Pakistan, India and the Kashmiri people."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC