Pakistan for mutual flexibility on Kashmir, says Musharraf
24 December 2004
B. Muralidhar Reddy
Islamabad: Ahead of the second round of Foreign Secretaries' meeting on the composite dialogue, the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has made it known that Islamabad is ready to show 'flexibility' ontheKashmir issue if India is prepared to reciprocate. Addressing the 15th dinner reception of the Pakistani-American Public Affairs Committee on Thursday, Gen. Musharraf said Pakistan had not moved from its 'principled position' on Jammu and Kashmir. 'Pakistan is prepared to show flexibility if India also shows reciprocity on resolving the lingering Jammu and Kashmir dispute. We will be flexible, when the other side also shows flexibility. Both sides need to move back from their 'maximum list' positions on Kashmir, we need to meet somewhere midway.' Islamabad 'wants to address the Kashmir dispute with honour and dignity and in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people.' He reiterated that the two tracks, confidence-building measures and dispute resolution, should move in tandem. 'We are hopeful that good sense will prevail and both sides will move towards a sustainable process of peace and economic development in the region.' 'In safe hands' Gen. Musharraf claimed that Pakistan's strategic assets 'are in safe hands' and fully protected. He dismissed suggestions to the contrary as absurd. 'Our strategic assets are a pride of the nation and are fully protected and there is no rollback at all.' Pakistan enjoyed 'real democracy' and efforts were under way for reconciliation and political harmony. He, however, made it clear that 'it does not mean that minority should rule the majority.' Uniform issue His reference to 'reconciliation' efforts have been interpreted as a bid to reach to the mainstream Opposition parties that have threatened to launch an agitation to force Gen. Musharraf to give up his Army uniform by December 31. The Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz, today invited the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, for a dialogue on the issue. The MMA leader, whose alliance has called for a black day on January 1, has accepted the invitation.