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Dialogue is a victory for moderates on both sides: Musharraf

Source: PTI
Last updated on: January 06, 2004 21:31 IST
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Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday said India and Pakistan should leave aside old differences and take steps to usher peace in the sub-continent. He said both countries had shown flexibility in recent time to keep the recently-initiated peace process on track.

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He said the SAARC region must possibly be the only one in which the concerned nations are not cooperating to improve the standard of life of its peoples.

Describing the resumption of a composite dialogue between India and Pakistan as a victory for "moderates" in the two countries, he said it was made possible by the "vision and statesmanship" of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He had an hour-long discussion with Vajpayee on Monday and had received a phone call from him on Tuesday morning.

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"There is a thaw in Indo-Pak relations in the past few months because of positive actions taken by both sides. There is a desire on both sides to take this process forward towards normalisation of relations," Musharraf told a crowded press conference at the Aiwan-e-Sadar (Presidential Palace) in Islamabad, a few hours after the two countries issued a joint press statement announcing resumption of a composite dialogue in February.

Like the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan earlier in the day who read out the joint press statement to the media, he reiterated, "We must not get involved (as to) who won or who lost. There are no winners or losers. It is a victory for all the peace-loving people of the world, victory for the people of India and Pakistan, victory for the people of Kashmir who have suffered all these years and are still suffering and victory for the moderates in India and Pakistan."

He said there was 'flexibility' on both sides during the bilateral negotiations, which led to the decision to go in for talks and specially mentioned the contributions of National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, foreign ministers and foreign secretaries of both the countries.

"We have arrived at an agreement on taking this normalisation process forward and setting a framework for taking it to its logical length and its culmination."

Noting that there were three points in the joint press statement, he said one was that Kashmir 'is an issue which needed to be resolved'. The other is that a composite dialogue has to be started on all issues, including Kashmir. The third point, he said, is that Pakistan had reiterated its resolve to fight terrorism and not allow its soil to be used for terrorism anywhere in the world.

"Yes, there are extremists on both sides who may not want peace, take extreme and inflexible positions, who may like to sabotage this process."

He denied having any control over terrorists operating in Jammu and Kashmir but hoped his word would carry some weight, at least enough to persuade them to agree to end the violence. "I don't hold a whistle and I can never guarantee a ceasefire. One could facilitate as much as possible. I presume my word carries some weight."

He denied being 'in contact' with anyone in the Kashmir valley and would not like to touch on issues of divergence and differences. "If you want to proceed, we need to leave old divergences," he said.

Asked whether Pakistan was ready to go beyond its stated position and seek similar assurances from India to resolve the Kashmir issue, Musharraf said that it was 'too early and too premature' to talk of solutions. "We have taken a big leap forward. We have to sustain this for further progress. When we come to that stage (of taking decisions), we need to see things in reality so that conclusions can be reached. We need to be realistic to arrive at solutions."

To a question whether US had pressured India and Pakistan to arrive at such a decision, Musharraf said, "There is no question of any outside force forcing us into such a deal. It was the vision of both sides which made this possible and nobody else."

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