December 2003 News

Plebiscite remark was meant to initiate talks: Musharraf

22 December 2003
The Hindustan Times
Mubashir Zaidi

Islamabad: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Monday said Pakistan would continue to support the Kashmiri struggle and no one could coerce it into giving up Kashmir.Addressing political leaders of the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in Rawalpindi, he asked New Delhi to show flexibility in resolving the dispute and asked the Indian public to influence their leaders to enter into a dialogue process.Musharraf said that his proposal of going beyond the stated position on Kashmir was aimed at starting the dialogue process. 'We should not talk about solutions at this stage. The flexibility shown by Pakistan is to bring India to the negotiating table. Once talks begin then only we can talk about finding a solution,' he told Kashmiri leaders.President Musharraf said the world leaders and the international community are for peace in the South Asian region.His meeting was the first after he said in an interview last week that Pakistan had decided to put aside UN resolutions on Kashmir. His remarks evoked widespread condemnation from political parties and the Kashmiri leadership in Pakistan.However, Musharraf, according to a Kashmiri leader who attended the meet, said that Pakistan would not allow India to sideline the Kashmir issue during the peace talks.Most of the Kashmiri leaders who attended the meeting said they were satisfied with General Musharraf's explanation of his remarks on the UN resolutions on Kashmir.'He assured us that he would be the last man to abandon Pakistan's principled stance on Kashmir,' former PoK Prime Minister Barrister Sultan said. He said the Kashmiri leadership warned Musharraf that any unilateral abandonment of stance on UN resolutions by him would further weaken the Kashmiri struggle for freedom.


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