December 2004 News

15 Options Available On Kashmir

7 December 2004
The Nation

Lahore: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has declared that 15 different options on Kashmir can be discussed and Pakistan is ready to open more land routes in Kashmir. President Musharraf said Pakistan has not stepped back from its position on Kashmir but is prepared to be flexible if India shows reciprocity. 'We are ready to open three land routes in Kashmir to facilitate the people from both sides of Kashmir,' he added. Addressing members of the British Parliament at Westminster at the invitation of the Chairman of the prestigious Foreign Relations Committee of the British Parliament in London on Tuesday, the President underscored that flexibility has to come from both sides, reports GEO TV. 'Pakistan's message to Kashmiris is very clear that we will not let them down - I will never let them down,' he told the august gathering of leading members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. He emphasised that a solution to the lingering Kashmir dispute will have to be acceptable to both Pakistan and India and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan, he stated, wants Kashmiris to be part of the dialogue process with India. Kashmir remains the core dispute between Pakistan and India, he said apprising the British MPs of confidence-building measures and the dialogue process for the resolution of outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India. The President also responded to a host of other questions relating to nuclear proliferation, situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, Palestine and the state of Pakistan's economy. The issues of Kashmir and Palestine are ripe for solution now, he asserted while underlining the need to address the two long-standing disputes. Replying to a question he said Pakistan has adopted a very balanced foreign policy. On Iraq, the President said there is need to speed up raising of Iraqi security forces which would allow the exit strategy for the foreign forces. On the political side, he said, elections is the correct route. President Musharraf reiterated Pakistan's firm commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and said Islamabad has instituted a set of custodial controls and there is no possibility of nuclear proliferation at all. 'Proliferation will never take place,' he said adding that Pakistan is strongly opposed to nuclear proliferation. he President also informed the members of the influential British parliament about political restructuring and said that the Government has introduced a system of checks and balance on the power brokers in the form of National Security Council. He said democracy in the past had become dysfunctional because there was no democracy at the gross roots level. Musharraf said there is total freedom of speech and expression and media today enjoys unprecedented freedom. On women empowerment he said the Government has empowered half of the country's population by giving them representation in all the elected houses. The minorities have also been empowered through joint electorate system. He pointed out that the Local Government System of Pakistan is being described by the World Bank as a silent revolution at the grassroots level. The President said the father of the nation envisioned Pakistan as a progressive, moderate and democratic, Islamic state and believed in equal status. The President said the minorities enjoy rights in an ideological state of Pakistan. About the healthy state of the economy, he said it is stable, vibrant and all macro economic indicators are positive. Pakistan, he added, is being hailed as an economic success story by the World Bank and the IMF. The Government, he said, is focused on the process of passing benefits of these achievements to the common people through completion of mega development projects. He said the Government is following a concerted strategy to arrest poverty through provision of job opportunities. Musharraf said Pakistan is facing challenges and confronting them to rid the society from terrorism, militancy and extremism. He said vast majority of Pakistan is a moderate and a fringe group of extremists are trying to dominate the vast majority. 'We are tackling extremism and militants with force and broken their back on the mountains and cleared the cities.' He emphasised the need for tackling extremism and terrorism with political approach in the long term strategic perspective.


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