June 2001 News

I"m flexible: Musharraf

5 June 2001
The Hindu
B. Muralidhar Reddy

Islamabad: For the second time since the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, extended an invitation to the Pakistan Chief Executive, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for peace talks, the military ruler has said that he would go to India with a "flexible and an open mind" on Kashmir. In an interview to the Pakistani English monthly, Herald, Gen. Musharraf said India and Pakistan should make an effort for 'some sort of breakthrough" by demonstrating flexibility. An open mind, however, did not mean that "we start discussing something else and do not discuss Kashmir." "We will discuss the Kashmir issue. And with regard to that issue, I shall go there with a flexible and open mind," the General said.Gen. Musharraf clarified that the "time has not yet come" for him to ask the Kashmiri militants to scale down their activities."The time will come when the talks are held and they make progress. The present meeting is step one in this process. Now it remains to be seen that the talks begin and they begin on Kashmir and then they make headway." Disapproving of those advocating "jehad" (holy war) as the only solution to the Kashmir dispute, he said "we have fought wars. I think if we are able to resolve it through peaceful means, there should not be any need for fighting... Those who say there should not be any talks have a wrong attitude." Asserting that it was he who took all the initiatives, Gen. Musharraf said "we displayed restraint on the Line of Control. They (India) responded to it. It is I who have been saying that the process of dialogue should be initiated in a peaceful way and they have been rejecting it. I have taken many steps." On whether he was surprised at Mr. Vajpayee's invitation, Gen. Musharraf said: "I was not surprised. I was optimistic about the dialogue process... But then, so much time passed that I started to become a bit pessimistic and thought that, perhaps, they do not want to have a serious dialogue. (So in that sense) yes, it is surprising."


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