May 2001 News

Musharraf ready to visit Delhi for talks

16 May 2001
The Hindu
Hasan Suroor

London: The Pakistan Chief Executive, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has said that he is prepared to go to Delhi for talks provided India is willing to "move forward" on Kashmir. "If they don"t want to move forward on the Kashmir dispute, I have no reason to go to India. If they are serious about it, yes, anytime I would like to go", he said in an interview to The Guardian in Rawalpindi adding "you can"t clap with one hand." Gen. Musharraf said he doubted India's 'sincerity" and accused New Delhi of "trying to play games to gain time" in a bid to "create a gulf between the Kashmiris and Pakistan, and within Kashmiris". He described the ceasefire declared by India as a "farce". While the ceasefire on the Line of Control was holding, the ceasefire announced by India (against militants) was non- existent. "It is a farce meant for the consumption of the West". Criticising the Vajpayee Government's approach to the All-Party Hurriyat Conference's insistence on tripartite negotiations on Kashmir, he said: "I"m really doubtful what the Indians want. I doubt their seriousness. I think they are trying to play games for gaining time. When they gain time, their strategy is, may be, to try to create a gulf between the Kashmiris and Pakistan, and within Kashmiris themselves. I am afraid that is a very short- sighted strategy. It will not function. It will not succeed. The ball is entirely in India's court and the sooner they realise this, the better". Gen. Musharraf said India "wasted" two recent "windows of opportunity". One when the Hizb-ul Mujahideen declared a ceasefire last year. "We got this opportunity to move towards serious dialogue - then again the window closed and we started back to normal confrontation. And now this very serious window of opportunity where there is a ceasefire on the Line of Control - and the ceasefire which Indians have declared which is really a farce. There is no ceasefire there", he alleged blaming India for "wasting" yet another window of opportunity. The military ruler said the initial "vibes" with the Vajpayee Government were encouraging and he was optimistic that the Indian Prime Minister was "keen on taking bold action." "But I"m disappointed with the outcome of everything", he said returning to his theme of lost "opportunities" for what he believed was want of proper response from New Delhi. He said he was "not dying" to visit Delhi unless India was keen. On the U.S. nuclear missile defence shield and India's "enthusiasm" for it, Gen. Musharraf noted the "new geo- strategic" Indo-U.S. understanding (first he called it "collusion" but then added that may be it was just an "understanding") and said: "Although basically it is for economic reasons, one has to see whether this develops further into a strategic relationship. If that happens - now that is where we would see with a little bit of anxiety." He argued that there was strategic balance in the region and Pakistan would be anxious if that balance was to "tilt in favour of India". "I only hope that the new U.S. administration understands the implication of this strategic balance which requires to be maintained in South Asia." He said the previous U.S. administration had a pro-India tilt, and hoped that the Bush administration "would balance this out." He spoke of goodwill for the Bush administration in Pakistan saying that every individual Pakistani supported him in the election. The military ruler also answered question on domestic situation and warned that Ms. Benazir Bhutto would be arrested if she returned to Pakistan. "Legal action will be taken against her, certainly."


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