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Any violence against civilians is terrorism: Musharraf

By Saisuresh Sivaswamy and Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations
Last updated on: September 16, 2005 11:20 IST
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Any violence against civilians is terrorism, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday told a press conference.

Unlike in previous years, it was a pacifist Musharraf who met with the media on the heels of a summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late on Wednesday night.

PM rejects any justification for terrorism

Put on the mat by an aggressive Pakistani media and asked if the talks with India can be termed a failure, he said it was a fruitful meeting with the Indian prime minister. "Such critical issues like Kashmir etc cannot be resolved in a day or two. Let me say this, there is a commitment on both sides to move the peace process forward. It is a sensitive issue, so we cannot say how we will move forward, what the end objective is etc, but through consensus we shall move forward."

"There is a resolve to move forward," he added, "and that resolve was shown last night. We cannot get bogged down in semantics."

Indo-Pak: Still committed, still unresolved

On the issue of cross-border terror, Musharraf said, "We don't have to get involved in definitions, to me any violence against civilians is terrorism. We need to remove all signs of this violence. One, is the violence against the people. Two, is the violence by the people who it is said are coming from across the border. Which comes first, that is like a chicken and egg question. We think both need to be addressed. We need to discuss this in future, to finish the violence in Kashmir and go forward in the dialogue process."

"There are no training camps in Pakistan," Musharraf insisted, "and there is no cross-border activity. We are moving forward on confidence building, on conflict resolution. Confidence building is meant to defuse tensions, and for the last two years we have only been defusing tension, through confidence building measures, people to people interaction etc."

Will look into Sarabjit issue: Musharraf

Asked about the non-inclusion of the rights of the Kashmiri people or the reference to United Nations Security Council resolutions in the joint declaration issued last night with Manmohan Singh, Musharraf said, "Our stand is clear, resolution will take time. We are for including Kashmiris in the process, and to satisfy all parties to the conflict. As we move along on the path to peace, we will include the people of Kashmir as well."

Complete coverage: PM at the UN

"The resolve is there. I have always been saying we are flexible, and are prepared to go beyond, not unilaterally but bilaterally. If India were to step back from its stated position, we are also willing to step back from our stated position.

"The Indian foreign minister is coming to Pakistan next month, the prime minister has accepted my invitation to visit Pakistan. All this will lead to a resolution of issues, we will develop a consensus. We are making reasonable progress."

Asked if he found India inflexible, Musharraf said, "Don't restrict yourself to last night's discussion because you don't know what we discussed. Kashmir has never before been mentioned in any international fora by India, so that's a flexibility on their part. Just look at what's happening, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference has actually met with the Indian prime minister, they were allowed to come to Pakistan and meet me. Don't you see the progress there? There is the bus service from Srinagar to Muzaffarbad, which will expand to other places, that's a convenience for the people on both sides.

The Road to Peace

"There will be flexibility, on finding a solution. But that will be kept confidential, till we can declare it, make the covert overt."

Asked why the UN's intervention was not sought in Kashmir, Musharraf said, "If you want to get the issue bogged down, I can do that. But we don't want to get others involved. We are moving forward bilaterally. So we are not involving the UN secretary general. The course we have adopted is best."

Asked if Iran was discussed in his talks with the Indian prime minister, Musharraf said, "We have so much on our plate, we can't be discussing other countries. We did not discuss the gas pipeline either. But I will say that India wants the gas pipeline, we want it, and we will move in a trilateral manner."

About Iran's nuclear plans, Musharraf said, "We believe in non-proliferation. But as an armyman I also believe in threat perception. If Iran's threat perception justifies nuclear weapons, well… Iran itself says it doesn't want enriched uranium or nuclear weapons. And, peaceful use of nuclear energy without international checks raises doubts."

About nuclear proliferation indulged in by the father of Pakistan's bomb A Q Khan, Musharraf said, "We have always said that yes, he allowed proliferation to Libya, North Korea and Iran. But we cannot allow access to outsiders for his interrogation because one, it is a matter of great sensitivity, and two, it shows lack of confidence in our capability to interrogate and to share the information."

He said there was no point is bringing accusations and counter-accusations such as India saying cross border terrorism and Pakistan calling it a freedom struggle.

Musharraf sounded very optimistic and painted a positive picture of where the peace process was headed, and pointed to next month's meeting between the foreign ministers for the two countries as evidence of progress.


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Saisuresh Sivaswamy and Suman Guha Mozumder at the United Nations