March 2004 News

Musharraf's 'deadline' remarks clarified

31 March 2004
The Dawn

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan has clarified some remarks attributed to President Gen Pervez Musharraf about a 'deadline' to India for a composite dialogue. The spokesman was commenting on reports in a section of the print and electronic media about President Musharraf's address to a select group of journalists and intellectuals recorded on Tuesday. The reports said that the President had given a deadline of July-August for the composite dialogue process with India to succeed, especially on the Jammu and Kashmir issue. Otherwise the peace process could get derailed. In an interview to PTV on Wednesday, Mr Masood Khan said 'The interpretation of the President's remarks is not correct.' 'The President did not use the word 'deadline' at all,' Mr Khan said. He said the essence of what the president had said was that Pakistan and India had to move forward on Kashmir and resolve the issue. He said that in accordance with the calendar of meetings finalised by the foreign secretaries of the two countries on February 18, the two foreign secretaries would meet in May and June and then prepare agenda and recommendations for the foreign ministers who would hold talks in August. The president said that he had shared his thinking on this subject with the international community and with India. 'The president thus underscored the need for forward movement and a result-oriented dialogue,' Mr Khan said. While commending the goodwill and momentum generated by the CBMs, such as resumption of sporting ties, the president emphasised that there should be progress on the parallel track of dialogue, which must focus on resolving the Kashmir issue. The president reiterated his long- standing position that the two countries had to move forward on Kashmir. 'If we do not move forward, the whole process loses its meaning and significance,' he said. Pakistan remains committed to the dialogue process as agreed to by President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee on Jan 6 and later translated into a schedule of meetings between March to August this year. -APP


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