July 16, 2001
12 45 IST


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No CBMs till Kashmir is solved: Musharraf

On Monday morning, Pakistan President General Parvez Musharraf turned what was meant to be an informal breakfast meeting with editors of leading Indian publications into a virtual press-conference, wherein he spelt out a hardline stance on the issue of Kashmir.

Follows, excerpts from Musharraf's address to the editors:

"It (the Agra Summit) is a very historic event that we are passing through. I would say convert it into a really historic one for India and Pakistan. And I certainly come here with this idea that we need to convert our relations, we need to turn the corner, we need to certainly improve our relations for the sake of this region.

"I am extremely sorry this is the only region that is economically deprived which is not collaborating for the well being of the people. All this is happening for only one thing: the India-Pakistan conflict. It is quite clear that any sane person would like this conflict or tension removed. I came here with this in mind.

"But I would like to emphasize one thing certainly, which must be understood. Every country has its principles, its stand, its dignity and honor to guard. In this region we do understand India is the biggest country, India is the most populous country, it is the biggest country.

"But Pakistan is not a small country. Every country has its honor and dignity to guard. I may like to hasten to add that I call upon the bigger partner to ensure the honor and dignity of the smaller partner.

"I try to be a realist. I do not believe in living in a make believe world. We have to confront realities as they are. We must not brush them under the carpet, like an ostrich, living in its own world, not seeing what is happening outside, or presuming or imagining that we are not seeing what is happening around us. I feel if we do not face issues squarely, frontally, or we do not catch the bull by the horns, and we do not put the horse before the cart, we can hardly move forward. If we keep sticking to our positions, we cannot move forward. So therefore there is a degree of flexibility, open mindedness, understanding each other, that is a pre-requisite for any forward movement.

"I believe in a sincere and honest way of approaching things. I do believe in saying what I mean, or saying what I am thinking. I do believe in maintaining a link between the mind, heart and tongue. What I talk anywhere I mean it. So these are issues that are extremely important.

"Let us not remain under any illusion. The main issue confronting us is Kashmir. I am not saying anything that is unrealistic. That is the reality on the ground, whether we like or not. There are compulsions on your part, there are compulsions on my part, that I must talk about. If India expects that I should ignore Kashmir, then I can buy back Neharwali Haveli and live here.

"We have spent 50 years fighting each other. I was extremely sorry when I heard day before yesterday about an old (Indian) woman looking for her (soldier) son. We should be mad to retain a POW for 30 years. I am a soldier. I would be the first man to release him. We have our own mothers who have lost children, in wars with you. We understand their feelings. I am a man in uniform, I have seen my soldiers, officers die. So I certainly have sympathies with any parent who may have lost their son. So on that issue I told the PM that when I go back I will get personally involved. Previously, people have looked around, but since you do not believe, I would look into it myself and if by chance there are any PoWs in Pakistan, I will ensure their immediate release.

"I am an optimist, and I will always be an optimist. I personally feel that we should not get bogged at this stage in getting a solution, because then we won't proceed further. We can't jump from zero run to 10th run. We must go step by step. Step one was the initiation of dialogue, and I would like to again give all credit to the PM for having invited me. It is a courageous and bold step.

"Now, step two. I feel it must be acceptance that Kashmir is an issue. It must be resolved. When I say there are three parties, I mean India, Pakistan and also the people of Kashmir. Can we do something for them over their heads?

"Acceptance of the main issue requires boldness and courage. This is not a difficult step. You just accept the reality. We are now entering into troubled waters, how do we go forward? I feel we all know there are a number of solutions. Obviously, national consensus will be required. National consensus is required from both sides.

"Having done that, we have come a little further. Step two can be taken today. Step three can be taken later. And step four after that.

"I will be happy if we accept the reality on ground, we accept the issue and have a framework. I will be satisfied.

"On the positive side, we certainly will continue with the dialogue process in the future. And we will continue to address the issues involved. We must understand the environment of trust and suspicion. I would like to spell out bluntly this environment. In Pakistan the people do not trust the Indian government, if I were to put it very bluntly.

"The same may be true this side. The people of Pakistan feel that purposely there is a design when India says that Kashmir is not an issue. They believe India is trying to divert us. Therefore, to allay these fears of the people, the suspicions that are so deep set, we have to come out openly to say that we can say these things. Otherwise those with extremist views will say: 'We said, they (India) are not sincere.'

"They are trying to buy time, this is the Indian strategy. That is all. This is the suspicion in Pakistan. We need to kill the suspicion. So this part is very important. Even on words like dispute there is such great diplomacy. Now dispute is between two people. By all definitions it is a dispute. Call it an issue. Look where we are -- we cannot agree even on a word. How can we go forward? With such a mindset, can we move forward?

"Naturally now, at this point in time, (Kashmiris) are not needed (for talks). But if we are proceeding towards a solution, they will have to be involved.

"We can address all issues, after having addressed the main issue. But another suspicion in Pakistan is that India discusses other issues, and leaves Kashmir behind. Therefore we start together, we must be open. All issues must make progress in tandem. No leader in Pakistan can allow the sidelining of Kashmir for the sake of economy, confidence building, nuclear, everything. They have to progress in tandem, all issues have to be taken together.

"This woman asked on TV: Can this man be trusted? I would like to tell this woman that that should have been asked before this man was invited here. It hurt me. Hamari tehzib hai, Pakistan aur Hindustan ki tehzib hai, hum mehman ke bare main ek tehzib se baat karte hain. (We have culture. Pakistan and India have culture. We talk about our guests with respect.)

"See history. There is a tendency to stop at Kargil. There is a lot of pain that has been caused by Kargil. I am supposed to be the Kargil man. How much hurt was caused when in 1967 the Mukti Bahini (Bangladesh freedom army) were being trained, supported by India? How much hurt did it cause to Pakistan when in violation of the Simla Accord, the Indian army intruded into Siachen? How much hurt and indignity did it cause us?

"Therefore, it is in the fitness of things that we leave history aside and we need to move forward, with the understanding that all these pains and misunderstanding have been caused by Kashmir. And now India says we are not prepared to address this Kashmir issue. That is what I do not understand.

"I can understand how you feel about Kargil. You must understand how Pakistanis feel about 1971 and Siachen.

"We are not encouraging any violence in Kashmir. This is an indigenous freedom struggle going on there. We in Pakistan keep calling it a freedom struggle. Who is right, who is wrong? We keep saying that there is atrocity against civilians by the Indian army. These are issues that must be addressed. I am sure the progress on Kashmir talks will have its effect on whatever is happening in Kashmir.

"Can someone expect that this violence (in Kashmir) can stop when the dispute itself is not resolved? I am saying the violence should end. But this will happen only when the issue is taken up.

"They ask me about my legitimacy to represent the people of Pakistan. Things happened on October 12, 1999. I did not take over (power) really. I was thrust into this position by my predecessor, I need to thank him for that, in the interest of Pakistan. It was required in the interest of Pakistan. His going was certainly required. That was the demand of every individual in Pakistan. The majority of the people of Pakistan support me on whatever I am doing in Pakistan."

Indo-Asian News Service

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Indo-Pak Summit 2001: The Complete Coverage

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