June 2003 News

President links talks' success to Kashmir: Kargil was not a mistake

13 June 2003
The Dawn
Jawed Naqvi

NEW DELHI: Talks between India and Pakistan cannot succeed if the issue of Kashmir is not addressed in the process, President Pervez Musharraf was quoted on Friday as telling an Indian TV channel. 'We can talk of trade and economy and other issues, but no talks will succeed unless the core issue is addressed,' Gen Musharraf was reported to have told NDTV 24x7 channel. The interview will be telecast on Saturday. In a brief peep into the interview with General Musharraf, NDTV said he is willing to lead his country in talks with India.'However, Gen Musharraf remained in denial on crucial issues like last year's elections in Kashmir, which he refused to accept as free and fair,' NDTV said. He also refused to accept that the 'Kargil intrusion was a mistake and against the interests of Islamabad.' Indian officials had blamed NDTV's exclusively televised round-table between Gen Musharraf and Indian editors as a key factor in the failure of the Agra talks.NDTV claimed it was the first interview Gen Musharraf had given to an Indian news channel since Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee's latest peace initiative. In a more detailed preview of the conversation with NDTV's Prannoy Roy, rediffmail.com news website gave a few direct quotes apparently gleaned from the interview. 'Prime Minister [Mir Zafarullah Khan] Jamali may be a better person for him to meet, but if Mr Vajpayee is willing to meet me, I would be more than willing to meet him and lead the talks,' rediff said, quoting the interview with NDTV's Prannoy Roy. 'Kargil was a decision taken by the Mujahideen, and we got involved because of the action taken by the Indian troops,' Gen Musharraf said.'No. Let me tell you that before Kargil, Kashmir was a dead issue. To avoid Kargils, we need to resolve disputes and much depends on how we proceed on the peace track,' the general was quoted as saying. He refused to acknowledge last year's election in Jammu and Kashmir as free and fair, saying 'I am very clear on one thing. The people of Kashmir do not want to be part of India.' On Washinton's move for soft borders between the two countries, Gen Musharraf said it could only be a small comfort. 'People to people contact can be useful, but it cannot be a final solution.' On cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, General Musharraf was quoted as saying 'I would like cricket and all sporting ties to resume. But cricket is a trivial issue. And let me tell you that my players don't want to play with India.'


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