Without progress on Kashmir, CBMs will not be helpful: Musharraf
11 July 2001
The News International
ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday said without a movement forward for the settlement of the core issue of Kashmir, all Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) would not help improve relations between the two countries."Kashmir is the core issue. If we will not move forward for its settlement, all the confidence building measures and other related issues between India and Pakistan will not move ahead. This is the main idea," said Musharraf in an interview with PTV.Musharraf said he considered initiating a process of movement towards the resolution of Kashmir dispute as "extremely essential also because this is not only my hope but this is also hope of the people of Pakistan." "I think it is also the hope of people of India and may I also add it is the hope and aspiration of the people of the entire world. The entire world's attention is focused on this dialogue. So I only hope that we achieve progress in the dialogue towards the resolution of the core dispute of Kashmir."He said a complete consensus exists in Pakistan to begin dialogue with India for seeking a settlement of the Kashmir issue to reduce tension between the two countries. "There is a total consensus on the issue of initiating a dialogue with India."He said this was the main idea, which emerged out of his over two-weeks consultations with all the segments of the society before his visit to New Delhi for a summit- level meeting with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.Musharraf said he had met all sections of the society which include politicians, members of Azad and Jammu Kashmir Council, newspaper editors, Ulema, Mashaikh, representatives of the minorities and even college students who all had given their fullest support for talks with India. "They have reposed confidence in me and given their trust and backing to me. So I am going to India with a full strength of the nation behind me," said a relaxed President.Musharraf said it were not only Pakistani and Indian people who had pinned hopes on the outcome of his meeting with Vajpayee but the whole world was also expecting its "positive results." "I will talk to Prime Minister Vajpayee with frankness and sincerity and will highlight the centrality of the Kashmir issue," said the President.He said expecting solution of Kashmir in his first meeting with Atal Behari Vajpayee would be "premature." But as the process of dialogue would proceed, the talks could go ahead for the solution of the Kashmir issue.Musharraf said he had had no discussion here on the possible solutions of Kashmir but hoped he and Vajpayee would have discussion towards the resolution of the issue in their first meeting. "The issue of focus with Prime Minister Vajpayee will be Kashmir. India has been endeavouring to sideline the issue but I will like to promote the centrality and importance of the issue," he said.To a question, the President said he was ready to discuss Kashmir with Vajpayee in its totality. "We will talk on Kashmir in totality," he said in response to a question on the reported statement by the Indian prime minister that New Delhi would have talks on Kashmir in its totality. "There should be talks on Kashmir and whatever its mode we will go along them (Indians). Then we will see how the discussion proceeds ahead," he said. Asked on his vision of the South Asia, Musharraf said, "it is the only region in the world, which is not cooperating for its economic development." "It is poverty stricken and economically deprived region and it is because of tension between India and Pakistan."Musharraf said, "We have always been saying that the root cause of this tension is Kashmir dispute." 'solve Kashmir dispute and this tension will end and there will be economic development of this region. This will be good for the betterment and prosperity of the poor in the region and this is what I want."He said the talks on the settlement of Kashmir issue could not progress without representation of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). Musharraf said he had met with the members of Azad and Jammu Kashmir Council and they told him that the opinion of the people of Kashmir was necessary. "There is no doubt about that," said the President."As the talks will move ahead, the representation of APHC is a must because dialogue on Kashmir cannot progress unless its representation is there. I am very clear on this." He said as the talks between India and Pakistan on Kashmir will proceed, the question of APHC's participation would be given a serious consideration. Musharraf said: "I go there with all seriousness to initiate a process of movement towards the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.".Talking to a group of mediapersons in Islamabad on Wednesday afternoon, Musharraf again emphasised he will highlight the centrality of the Kashmir issue at the forthcoming summit. Musharraf, who is leaving for his historic summit on Saturday, made it clear that he would raise the core issue of Kashmir with the Indian leader in utmost sincerity and frankness. He hoped that the other side would reciprocate in the same manner as the dispute had been hindering any process towards improvement of relations between the two neighbours.Asked about his interaction with a cross-section of Pakistani public opinion, he said the sum total of the exchange of views was that it was necessary to move towards a just resolution of the Kashmir problem. He noted with a sense of pride that every segment of the society was supporting a dialogue with India focusing mainly on Kashmir.He stated emphatically that he was going to New Delhi with full backing of the nation. He particularly mentioned his meeting with Kashmiri leaders and legislators and said they wanted participation of Kashmiris in the process towards a settlement of the dispute.He asserted that Pakistan fully supported the representation of Kashmiris in the process. He noted that it would be his first meeting with the Indian prime minister and representation of Kashmiris in the subsequent negotiations would be necessary. He said he would be hammering this point with Vajpayee.He said tension-ridden region was facing problems of poverty and backwardness. He said the root cause of this malady was the Kashmir dispute. Once it is resolved, the entire region will move towards peace, progress and prosperity. Musharraf called for an early settlement of the dispute.