LoC as permanent border not acceptable: Musharraf
13 July 2001
The Hindustan Times
Dubai: PAKISTAN PRESIDENT Pervez Musharraf has ruled out accepting the Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border and said he is willing to extend his trip to India by another 48 hours if New Delhi is serious about finding a solution to the Kashmir issue. "LoC is the problem. What is the ongoing freedom struggle about. It is about the LoC. It is the problem not the solution. How can the problem be the solution," Musharraf said in an interview to Gulf News on the eve of his visit to India. "Now who in Pakistan will ever accept this (LoC)? Nobody in Pakistan can accept this and expect to stay in power. I think it will be very unrealistic for any Indian leader to expect any leader of Pakistan to go and accept the permanence of the LoC," he said. He, however, stressed that respecting the LoC was entirely a different matter. Stating that Kashmir was the "core issue" to be solved, Musharraf said he was willing to extend the trip to India by another 48 hours if Delhi was serious about finding a solution. He said Pakistan was looking towards a step by step solution to the issue. Justifying the invitation to Hurriyat for talks with him in New Delhi, Musharraf said it had been sent because "we feel the Kashmiris, the Hurriyat Conference ought to be taken along." "Right from the beginning I have said that there are three parties to the Kashmir dispute - the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Kashmiris and we believe the Kashmiris" representative is Hurriyat Conference," he said. He said he has always maintained that to begin with India and Pakistan should talk without "Kashmiri representatives but any time in the future they have to be included in the process of the dialogue if there is to be progress." Musharraf denied that the Army in Pakistan was blocking any move towards peace. "It is the people of Pakistan who will not allow anything to happen between India and Pakistan unless the main conflict is resolved," he said. In reply to a question, he said if the talks failed it did not mean that the two countries would be close to a nuclear confrontation. "I would not like it to be said that if there is a failure now in Agra, we are closing to a nuclear holocaust, nothing of the sort."