Musharraf Urges Islamic Nations' Support On Kashmir
16 July 2003
The Times of India
Tunis: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who is on a week-long South African visit, has asked for support from Islamic countries on the Kashmir issue. He also called for better co-ordination on other international issues, including Palestine and Iraq. 'The Islamic countries must regularly consult each other at the UN and all other international fora to co-ordinate their position on all important regional and international issues including Palestine, Kashmir and Iraq,' the President was quoted as saying in an interview with Tunisian Arabic daily Al-Sharooq. Once again asserting that what was going on in Kashmir was a freedom struggle and that people there were fighting for their UN-guaranteed right of self-determination, he said, 'The fact that the Palestinians and Kashmiris happen to be Muslims should not in any way affect their basic fundamental rights, including their right to self-determination.' About the realisation of Islamic solidarity worldwide, Musharraf said it would require a strong political will and unequivocal commitment of the leaders of the Islamic countries, Pakistani daily, The News, reported on Thursday. 'The re-invigoration of the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) would be an important step forward in this direction. It is high time to further strengthen the OIC and make it more effective to meet the contemporary challenges,' he said. He added Pakistan would put forward some concrete and specific proposals for this purpose in the forthcoming OIC Summit Conference in Kuala Lumpur later this year. Musharraf said: 'As a first step, the OIC members states should settle their inter-state disputes in the spirit of the Islamic brotherhood and in the larger interest of the Ummah. Secondly, the OIC will have to put greater emphasis on socio-cultural contacts and economic and trade cooperation.' Urging the Muslim world to present the true image of Islam to the world, the president said, 'Islam, as we all know, is a religion of universal peace and harmony. While the Muslim world has to take the direction of enlightened moderation, the West too needs to exhibit an understanding of Islam. Dialogue, understanding and mutual respect among religions and cultures is necessary for peace and prosperity in the world.'