March 2003 News

Pakistan might join India to fight terror, says Musharraf

2 March 2003
The Daily Times
Not Specified

NEW DELHI: President Pervez Musharraf has said he is willing to join hands with India to fight extremism, but warned he will not compromise too much over Kashmir.'If someone says in a positive manner that we want to resolve the issue of terrorism, we too want it,' President Musharraf told the Indian news channel Aaj Tak in an interview broadcast on Sunday. But India and Pakistan should resume talks to 'set the strategic direction' in the fight against extremism, he added. Musharraf said any US pressure on him was 'humbug.' 'Let me assure you there is no US pressure on me.' He warned that no Pakistani leader could brush aside the Kashmir dispute and began mending relations with India in other areas. 'Let us understand the ground reality and start talks. Let us start talks on all issues including Kashmir.'He said as New Delhi refused to talk to him, he would continue to raise the dispute with India at international fora - as he did last week, to India's fury, at the Non-Aligned Movement summit. Pakistan wanted to resolve all disputes including Kashmir with India through negotiations, he maintained. Refuting the Indian allegations of cross-border terrorism, the president said Kashmiris' freedom struggle was just and indigenous. The root cause has to be removed to resolve the Kashmir problem and any cosmetic solution will not work at all. He said he 'never justified terrorism', but acknowledged Pakistan had sympathisers of the Kashmir insurgents and that some 'freelancers' were involved in the rebellion. 'Yes, there is sympathy for them from our side, but not from the government. You have 700,000 troops along the border; were you able to stop them?'Defending the role of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, Musharraf said 'You also have an intelligence agency. Don't think it's pure and absolutely above reproach. We have our intelligence organisation and it works.'Referring to local Islamists, he said the two top Islamic extremists released by Pakistani courts had done nothing illegal. It is not justified to incarcerate the founders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad. 'There was nothing illegal they did. You can't keep a man indefinitely under arrest without trial. I banned both these organisations, closed all their offices and froze their accounts,' he said.Accusing India of blocking peace in Kashmir, Musharraf said 'It has been done by design. I have personally not taken a single action to increase tension. They refuse to hold talks, and create tensions.' He alleged that India tried to spread unrest in Sindh, where some groups demanded independence. 'We know about the training camps in India, aimed at Pakistan and Sindh. We know who all are trained there, I can give a list of names.' Reacting quickly to Musharraf's comments, India called his stance 'trite and hackneyed'. 'Gen. Musharraf has chosen to repeat his timeworn, trite and hackneyed position that tries to mask Pakistan's real intentions and designs,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told The Associated Press. -Agencies


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