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Major breakthrough on Kashmir during my premiership, says Sharif

Source: PTI
February 23, 2009 20:46 IST
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Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif claimed on Monday that there was a major breakthrough to resolve the Kashmir issue with India during his premiership but the gains were "turned upside down" by the subsequent military regime of Pervez Musharraf.
Sharif made the claim during a meeting with an Indian peace delegation led by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt at his residence at Raiwind in Lahore. He did not give details of the breakthrough on the vexed
Kashmir issue.
The former premier also described the signing of the Lahore Declaration during then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bjihari Vajpayee's visit to Pakistan in 1999 as a "great achievement". He said everything was later "turned upside down" by a dictator.
Sharif said extremist elements had gained strength during the era of former president Pervez Musharraf, who came to power by deposing a PML-N government in a military coup. Sharif also said an independent judiciary could have helped decrease extremism.
The PML-N chief's brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, was also present during the meeting with the
Indian delegation, which arrived in Pakistan yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after meeting the Sharif brothers, Nayar said, "We told Mr Sharif that there is still a lot of anger in India and it would be good if those responsible (for the Mumbai attacks) are caught and brought to trial as soon as possible."
Nayar said the delegation also told Sharif of the need to create a peaceful environment conducive to talks between
India and Pakistan. "Mr Sharif said the situation prevailing in Pakistan today is due to successive martial law regimes. The democracy of the kind wanted by the people is not there," he said.  Nayar said Sharif also raised the Kashmir issue and wanted it to be resolved to the satisfaction of India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris.
The Indian delegation, which comprises rights and peace activists and journalists, also met Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed, who claimed that Kashmir remained the "core issue" between India and Pakistan.

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