June 2001 News

Musharraf says he will change history on Kashmir

15 June 2001
The News International
Mariana Baabar

ISLAMABAD: Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf said on Friday that he would change history on the Kashmir issue during his visit to New Delhi, provided there was cooperation from the Indian side also.Speaking in a live PTV programme, Face The Nation, the chief executive said he would travel to New Delhi with an "open mind" but he also showed "cautious optimism."The chances of moving forward have never been brighter," he told a questioner. "It is the unfinished agenda of partition. We want it resolved amicably for the economic betterment of Pakistan and India, the South Asian region. We must resolve it," he said, without going into details.When asked what were his expectations from the summit, given the history of trying to solve the Kashmir issue which always ended in failure, he replied: "It is true that the Kashmir issue had in the past not gone ahead and it is a sorry state of affairs that this has happened."I will sit with an open mind at the summit and hope that this time the Kashmir issue goes ahead. If the Indian government also cooperates then we will change the history on Kashmir. I will change the history on Kashmir."When asked what he meant by saying that he was ready for "flexibility" while trying to solve the Kashmir issue, the general backtracked from his famous quote to reply: "This general statement of "flexibility" has created confusion. No lines have been drawn and as I said I will go with an open mind provided there is also openness on the other side. I will see how open they are to the issue as there are no clear-cut answers. My openness will be proportionate to the other side and see how they respond."Though earlier the military regime was not ready to take the politicians or people into confidence before the chief executive left for the summit, however on Friday he said he would meet and talk to people, politicians and Kashmiri people.In a lighter vein General Musharraf said he had no problem travelling back to Muzaffarabad from Srinagar in a bus but it would be a very long journey. But he refused to go into details of the discussions on Kashmir at the summit except to say, "the core issue will be Kashmir and I"m going for discussions on Kashmir even if the Indians want to talk on something else."He said the Iran-India gas pipeline was basically an Indian issue. "It is important for us but it is for more important for them," he said. To a query on Afghanistan and allegations of terrorist camps on its soil, Gen Musharraf said that Pakistan had engaged the Taliban regime in dialogue and there was no way that Islamabad could force decisions on them."They are a free and a sovereign state and we have also given names of our wanted terrorists to them. They make their own decisions like in the case of destroying the Buddhas. We are also concerned about the lack of commercial activities affecting trade to the Cental Asian States", he added.Gen Musharraf reaffirmed to another query that it appears that New Delhi is clear on the fact that the core issue is Kashmir and it is only after this that other issues like the eight already identified points can be taken up.However, he regretted the statement of Indian foreign minister that whole of Kashmir including Azad Kashmir was part of India. "I hope that this was only a statement and would not enter into the dialogue. I can assure you that chances of moving forward on Kashmir have never been brighter before," he added..


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