May 2001 News

Kashmir main cause of tension, CE tells Vajpayee

29 May 2001
The News International

ISLAMABAD: Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf, on Tuesday, sent a reply to the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, accepting his invitation to visit India, hoping that the legacy of distrust and hostilities would cease. He said the nuclear neighbours" decades-old dispute over Kashmir was the fundamental cause of tension and needed to be discussed candidly along with "all other outstanding issues." The response comes four days after he received a formal invitation to visit New Delhi along with his wife.A Foreign Office statement said that the Pakistan High Commissioner delivered the letter to the Indian Foreign Secretary in New Delhi this afternoon. In keeping with the line Pervez Musharraf has taken lately, in which he said he was ready to be flexible, while approaching the issue of Kashmir, the letter says: "The root cause of tension between our two countries is the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute. I, therefore, look forward to sincere and candid discussions with you to resolve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people. We are ready to discuss all other outstanding issues between our two countries as well." The letter adds: "Pakistan has always sought to establish tension-free and co-operative relations with India, so that our two peoples may be able to devote their resources and energies to the task of economic and social development. We wish to see a stable and prosperous India at peace with its neighbours."At the beginning of the new century, our two countries must do their utmost to overcome the legacy of distrust and hostility, in order to build a brighter future for our peoples."When asked for a response to Islamabad's intention to get into other issues with New Delhi, besides the Kashmir issue, General (retd) Hamid Gul, aformer ISI chief said: "I don"t think Pervez Musharraf will sell us out. All other outstanding issues are in reality a corollary of the Kashmir issue and once Kashmir issue is settled, all other issues like Siachen Glacier and Wullar Barrage will automatically be settled. That leaves us with Sir Creek and demarking maritime borders. Certainly we will not go to war on these".Reuter adds: In an interview with the BBC,Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf said the disputed territory of Kashmir would be central to his promised talks with India, but he remained open to discussing other issues.Musharraf paid tribute to what he called the vision and courage of Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in calling for the talks. "I am very flexible. I have been saying that the core issue is Kashmir and let there be no doubt in that, but there are other issues also and I have no reservations at all. I have no problems in discussing other issues also. Vajpayee has moved towards accepting a reality and starting to address an issue which has bedevilled relations between our two countries," the chief executive added.APP adds: The United States on Tuesday welcomed Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf's acceptance of the Indian prime minister's invitation to visit New Delhi for talks and saw it an opportunity to end tension and resolve existing differences.A senior State Department official told APP that the US "applauds" the development and hoped that it would produce "positive results". The official said it was important that all sides in Kashmir should exercise restraint and reduce violence. This was necessary as it would strengthen the prospects of peace and move the two sides towards a resolution of their existing differences.Last week, deputy State Department spokesman Phillip Reeker said the US had encouraged both countries to engage in a process of dialogue and they now had an opportunity to make real progress towards a reduction in tensions and a resolution of their differences through peaceful means.He said: "We continue to believe that it is important for all sides in Kashmir to exercise restraint and to seek to reduce violence." Reeker said the important thing was that there was going to be dialogue and that was to be welcomed..


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