November 2004 News

Convert LoC into IB: MQM chief

6 November 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

New Delhi: Favouring conversion of Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir into International Border, Muttahida Quami Movement chief Altaf Hussain today said India and Pakistan should engage in a dialogue on others issues related to development and uplift of people. 'LoC can well be used as the basis to begin negotiations by virtue of being a ground reality, which has existed for the past three decades. I am saying, use this as a basis or option to begin talks until such a time that a practical alternative is found,' he said in his speech at the Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative Conference. 'What is wrong with it? if both the countries resolve that crossing this line would be considered as aggression, doesn’t it in layman’s terms amount to International Border,' Hussain said and added that if this was not the option, then the other alternative left was 'having another war'. Hussain said his plea was to allow people prosper and the two countries should divert critically required funds from defence to social and economic sections. 'Let us arm our children with education, health and hygiene and not with nuclear bombs and missiles.' He lauded Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for making a 'courageous' statement to discard plebiscite as an option. 'For the past 57 years, the leaders of Pakistan had not only misled the nation but also failed it by depriving Pakistani people of basic amenities under the rubric of Kashmir.' The MQM leader said restriction on bilateral trade have forced both India and Pakistan to import goods from third countries while 'Indo-Pak trade will ensure cheaper raw material and low transportation resulting in potential for quality products at competitive prices for consumers in both countries and larger markets for manufacturers.' Hussain also highlighted the plight of Muhajirs (refugees who went to Pakistan during partition) and said India should work to expedite opening of Munnabao-Khokrapar railway link so that the refugees could come back. Later at a press conference, he defended his decision to extend support to Musharraf saying this would ensure that the country does not slip into the hands of fundamentalists. 'On one hand, we have Musharraf and on the other we have several religious, fanatic forces who are capable of turning Pakistan into yet another Tora Bora,' Hussain said. He defended Musharraf’s decision to continue as the Chief of Pakistani Army saying 'sometimes you have no other option.' Asked why he was not being allowed to visit Pakistan though he is so appreciative of Musharraf, Hussain said 'well, the President himself has survived two assassination bids. I only wonder what will happen to me.' He said extra-judicial killings in Sindh had come down drastically. Later Hussan had a one-to-one meeting with External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh.


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