October 1999 News


Pakistan to pull back its troops along border

17 October 1999
The Hindustan Times

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's new ruler General Pervez Musharraf today announced unilateral military de-escalation along the border with India and the pulling back of his troops that moved to the border areas "in the recent past."

In a televised address to the nation that was picked up by most major international networks, Gen. Musharraf also offered to resume "result-oriented" talks with India on "all issues" but said "Pakistan would continue its support to the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination." He said India "must honour all UN resolutions on Kashmir."

Gen. Musharraf, who seized power on October 12 and proclaimed himself Chief Executive of Pakistan on Friday, said he wanted Pakistan and India to "work together to take South Asia out of economic deprivation." Congratulating Prime Minister Vajpayee on his return to power, the General said India and Pakistan could change the scenario in the sub-continent.

"I hope this step will serve as a meaningful confidence-building measure," the 58-year-old General said, while calling for "unconditional, equitable and result-oriented dialogue" with India.

Stating that South Asia stood at a "crucial juncture in history", Gen. Musharraf said India and Pakistan who have acquired nuclear capability, should work together to maintain peace in the region.

(In New Delhi, reports HTC, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra said the Indian government would study the contents of Gen. Musharraf's "apparently open-ended offer".)

"This is not martial law but another path towards democracy," the General declared on PTV. He said the constitution "was not scrapped but only suspended" and that the Army "does not intend to stay in power indefinitely".

The General said the military had seized power "to guide Pakistan out of a dark age" and that he had "no choice but to overthrow the government" of Mr. Nawaz Sharif.

He announced setting up of a six-member National Security Council(NSC) to run the affairs of the country and without giving any time frame, pledged to restore "true democracy". The Army, he said, "will not stay in power indefinitely."

The council, to be headed by Gen. Musharraf, will include Pakistan's Air Force and Naval chiefs, and legal, foreign and national affairs experts.

Promising to revive Pakistan's sagging economy, Gen. Musharraf said: "Today we have reached a stage where our economy has crumbled, our credibility is lost, institutions lie demolished, provincial disharmony has caused cracks in the federation and people, who were once brothers, are at each others throat."

He arrested that corrupt politicians would be pursued, illicit wealth would be recovered and national confidence would be built, apart from strengthening the federation and removing interprovincial disharmony.

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