India Seeks Formal Pak Offer On J&K
7 November 2004
Jammu: The Indian government would consider Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's proposal to identify seven regions of Jammu and Kashmir and then demilitarise them or administer them jointly, 'provided the Indian government got the proposals formally'. 'Our government would consider this proposal if it is forwarded to us formally,' Union home minister Mr Shivraj Patil said while addressing a press conference at the Technical Airport here this afternoon. He said the UPA government would 'certainly' look into Gen. Musharraf's proposal but they should first have its 'authentic version'. (Dr Manmohan Singh today refused to react to the recent formula of the Pakistan President to resolve the Kashmir problem, describing them as 'off- the-cuff remarks'. He was speaking to reporters on board the Prime Minister's special aircraft. 'It is a general statement. I don't have to react to all the off-the-cuff remarks,' the Prime Minister told reporters accompanying him to The Hague. Asked what would be his reaction if the Pakistan President gave the same proposal in a formal dialogue, he said: 'It is a hypothetical question. We will cross the bridge when we come to it.') Mr Patil said he found Gen. Musharraf's proposal too confusing. 'The best way to avoid confusion is to be very very cautious in understanding what Gen. Musharraf exactly meant,' he said. The home minister said the Centre never attached any condition to the dialogue process with the Hurriyat. 'We are ready for the dialogue, but it has to be a two-way process. We expect the same from the Hurriyat. They should not attach any condition,' he said. Asked if the Centre would consider announcing an internal ceasefire as the ceasefire announced by Pakistan would be completing a year on 25 November, he said: 'In Kashmir's case, we are just retaliating the violence perpetuated from the other side.' Mr Patil will visit Ladakh tomorrow. Pakistan welcomes remarks Welcoming India's statement on Hurriyat leaders' visit to Pakistan, foreign office spokesman Mr Masood Khan said: 'It would promote interaction between Kashmiri leaders and Indian and Pakistani leadership.' In Srinagar, moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq expressed hope that the re-election of Mr George W Bush will help in pushing through Gen. Musharraf's proposals.