June 2003 News

Settlement of Kashmir issue in interest of India, says Rashid

23 June 2003
The News International

ISLAMABAD: A peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue is in the interest of India itself, and if it realises this, it will help achieving lasting peace in the region, said Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday.In an interview with UAE-based news organisations here, he said: 'It is good for India, as well as its forces, people and economy, to reach some workable solution on the issue.'He said: 'India should realise the gravity of the problem, and show positive approach for its resolution.' The Kashmir freedom struggle has attained such a proportion that at this stage one cannot turn deaf ear to it, he said. There are two major problems in the world - one is Palestine and the other Kashmir - and both need to be resolved to restore peace.When his attention was drawn towards the ongoing test-firing of missiles by India, he said we can neither be provoked nor deterred by such Indian moves. 'We are confident about the strength of our defence, which is impregnable.'He condemned the Indian approach to eliminate youth in the held valley of Kashmir and said they are being killed so that the Kashmiris be not in a position to pose resistance to their forces.When his comments were invited on the Sino-India relations with special regard to the ongoing visit of Indian premier Vajpayee to China, he said these will not affect Pakistan-China relations.He said both China and Pakistan enjoy highly cordial and friendly relations. 'Our relations are time-tested and deep-rooted, so any Indian move will never affect our bilateral relations,' he said.On the question of any proposal for recognising Israel, he said President Musharraf had clearly stated that Pakistan could consider the issue in case the Arab world takes a final decision on it. 'Our every decision, in this regard, would be in accordance with our Arab brothers' aspirations,' he said.The leadership of Pakistan has high regards for the Arab leadership, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, he said, adding we enjoy cordial relations with the Arab world and we take important decisions by taking them into confidence.Commenting on the ongoing visit of President Musharraf to the US, he said this will enhance mutual cooperation in different fields of economy.Rashid said Pakistan never wants to earn financial gains for joining the world coalition against terrorism. 'We do not want to encash the cooperation extended by Pakistan to the international community except for enhancing political understanding with the leadership of the US on a long-term basis,' he said.Answering another question, he said Pakistan is financially in a position to purchase any modern aircraft from the world even SU-30, what to talk about the purchase of F-16 aircraft. 'It is not essential that we are interested in buying F-16s from the US but we want good and long-term relations with them,' he said.About the sanctions on Pakistan, he said some of them had already been removed while the rest would go in due course of time.Answering a question about the no-trust move against National Assembly speaker by the opposition parties, he termed it constitutional and democratic right of the opposition. 'In democracy the number always counts and the minority cannot dictate the majority,' he said.President Musharraf firmly believes in the promotion of democracy and he would be the last person to take any extreme step in this situation, he said when asked that if the situation remains unabated then would the president go for any extreme option. 'The democratic process in the country is in crisis but not endangered,' he said.


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