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Musharraf harps on flexibility again

Source: PTI
December 24, 2004 17:54 IST
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Asserting that Pakistan stood by its demand to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions, President Pervez Musharraf has, however, said his country is prepared to leave its stated position if India does the same.

"Perceptions that I sold out on Kashmir and backtracked on our stated positions, I have not done anything of that sort. I am not the kind to back track but I am the kind to back track when the other side is backtracking," he said, addressing a dinner reception of Pakistani-American Public Affairs Committee in Islamabad Thursday.

"While we stand by our original stand that is the 1948 UN resolutions, we have not moved an inch from that, but what I said (earlier), we will be flexible, if the other side also showed flexibility. We are prepared to leave our stated positions if the other sides also leaves its stated positions. That is the flexibility we have shown," he said.

His remarks came ahead of the commencement of the Foreign Secretary-level talks here on December 27 and 28 to kickstart the second round of Composite Dialogue process under which they would discuss Kashmir, Peace and Security and set the calendar for official-level meetings on six other issues.

"We stand by our commitment that Kashmir has to be resolved with honour and dignity. We will never leave the honour and dignity of the state of Pakistan," he said, adding the issue has to be resolved in accordance with the "wishes" of the Kashmiris.

"Whatever solution we come up with, we have to take them (Kashmiris) on board.... But We will show flexibility enough when the other side also showing flexibility. We need to meet somewhere midway," Musharraf said.

At present both the countries are sticking to their stated positions, he said. "We both are on a maximalist course. We need to step back. Indian needs to step back and Pakistan also needs to step back. Therefore, we will step back if India is also prepared to step back."

On the domestic front, Musharraf admitted that there is political disharmony which he tried to settle.

However, he said the federal and provincial assembles are functioning and "this is the essence of democracy."

"In spite of all this there is political disharmony and we need to harmonise... We are trying our best... I am trying my best," he said without directly referring to his government's talks with self-exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and other political parties.

"But one thing ought to be clearly understood that there cannot be the rule of the minority, democracy means the rule of majority, and the rule of majority has to prevail, the rule of minority cannot prevail. Therefore, while rapprochement and reconciliation is the order of the day, it does not mean that minority should rule the majority," he said.

Musharraf claimed that under his rule Pakistan enjoyed real democracy as people, women and minorities have been empowered at the grassroots level and at provincial and national tiers.

"Another essence of democracy is freedom of speech and expression, today nobody is put behind bars for their views or criticism in both print and electronic media - they are not targeted, they are not victimised."

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