Musharraf for giving up 'maxima list' positions
25 July 2004
Islamabad: President General Pervez Musharraf in his meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh on Friday had underscored the fact that unless both sides gave up their 'maximalist' positions on Kashmir , an early and just solution to the dispute acceptable to all three parties would not be possible, Dawn learnt through sources close to the president. The president was responding to Mr Natwar Singh's contention that a solution to Kashmir could not be sought in a hurry. The president, according to insiders, stressed two very specific points. One, that while giving up of maximalist positions is a necessary pre-requisite for moving forward on Kashmir, without sincerity, flexibility and courage maxmalist positions cannot be given up. Pakistan's maximalist position on Kashmir has been one enshrined in the UNSC resolution 91, calling for the holding of a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir. While India's initial maximalist position was that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir, were an integral part of India, more recently its maxmalist position has been turning the LoC into an international border. The other point underscored by the president was that the time and the bilateral atmosphere now were conducive to an early resolution of the Kashmir issue. He emphasized that if sincerity and courage could be demonstrated by the political leadership on both sides, an early resolution could become a reality. Musharraf also pointed out that endless dialogue without any concrete indicators of flexibility and sincerity, which would include, for example, controlling cross Line of Control (LoC) infiltration by Pakistan and ending human rights abuses and draw-down of Indian troops in Indian Held Kashmir, was neither wise nor desirable. The sources said President Musharraf stressed that he had repeatedly invited India to respond to the flexibility, sincerity, and courage that Pakistan had shown in the Kashmir dialogue with India. He, however, maintained that unilateral giving up of maximalist position was neither possible nor could contribute to taking forward the process of resolving the Kashmir dispute. According to informed sources, Mr Natwar Singh earlier during his talks with his Pakistani counterpart Mr Khurshid Kasuri in Islamabad had repeated India's old position of Kashmir being an integral part of India. Meanwhile, the process of normalization between Pakistan and India continue through both the bureaucratic and political channels. The second meeting at the political level took place in the first week of July between President Musharraf's trusted aide Tariq Aziz and Indian National Security Adviser in Dubai. Earlier, the two met in Amritsar. Leadership on both sides recognizes that for any genuine breakthrough on Kashmir regular engagement at the highest level remains necessary. Meanwhile, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman on Saturday publicly expressed disappointment over Islamabad's call for a 'reasonable timeframe' for settling the Kashmir dispute. On July 23 Pakistan's Foreign Office had said in a statement that the president, during his meeting with Mr Natwar Singh, called for 'reaching a final settlement' on the Kashmir issue within a 'reasonable timeframe.' The Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman maintained that 'how can you solve it (Kashmir) in three days or three months or three years.' Pakistan complains eight months into the historic January 6 Islamabad joint statement and India's own acknowledgement of major reduction in cross-LoC infiltration, there are no 'concrete indicators' showing India's willingness to move even on improving the human rights condition in IHK.