March 2005 News

Kashmir Has Gone Out Of Pakistan's Reach: Sharif

6 March 2005

Islamabad: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said that because of the U- turns and reversals of stands by Pakistan, Kashmir has 'gone far beyond our reach'. While his government had dealt with India as an equal sovereign partner, President Pervez Musharraf's policy towards India has been marked by U-turns and retreats, he said in an interview with a US television channel in Jeddah. About his government's dealing with New Delhi, Sharif said: 'India conducted nuclear blasts and so did we despite pressure from the US.' He said then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore on his own and the Lahore Declaration was signed. It included the Kashmir issue. 'Vajpayee told me that he wanted to see 1999 as a year for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Now the situation is otherwise. There are reversals, U-turns and retreats everywhere. Kashmir has gone far beyond our reach today,' he said. Sharif, who was ousted by Musharraf, then army chief, in a coup in October 1999, also said the initiation of cases against Pakistan's nuclear scientists was targeted against the country and its nuclear programme. 'It is a highly sensitive matter and I don't want to talk about it. But those who registered cases against Pakistan's nuclear scientists are from amongst us. The next target will be the country and its nuclear programme,' he said. A.Q. Khan, known as the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, has been stripped of all official positions and placed under house arrest and several nuclear scientists questioned over their role in selling nuclear secrets to other countries. He denied having entered into any deal with Musharraf at the time of his exile along with his family to Saudi Arabia. 'The government wanted us to reach an agreement but we refused. Our Saudi hosts initiated talks with Gen. Musharraf on their own and we knew about it when the matter was resolved.' He said a deal with Musharraf in the current political situation would amount to a compromise of democracy. Asked about reports that his brother and former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif might enter into a deal with Musharraf, he said he was not authorised to do so. 'He cannot even think of a deal with President Musharraf without my approval and that of the party.' 'We have faced all ordeals with courage after Oct 12, 1999 (the day Musharraf ousted him in a coup) and why should we strike a deal with the government when our bad patch is over?' he asked. Sharif said he had discussed the issue with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who lives in exile in Dubai. 'I asked her what we could gain out of a deal with President Musharraf. We consider it insulting even for any party worker to accept the so-called premiership in this situation. Benazir agreed,' he said. He asserted that he and his family would definitely return to Pakistan one day.


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