Kashmir Be Resolved Through Mutual Trust: Benazir
2 April 2005
The Daily Excelsior
Jaipur: Observing that the 'thorny' Kashmir problem cannot be resolved through 'jehad', former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto today said it should be settled amicably through mutual trust and understanding between India and Pakistan. 'We do not see the Kashmir issue in terms of 'jehad'. The two countries need not go to war over it. There should be Confidence Building Measures to develop mutual trust and understanding so that the issue could be resolved amicably,' self-exiled Bhutto said here before leaving for Dubai. Noting that India has a boundary dispute with China, she said 'the two countries do not go to war over it.' Similarly, Bhutto said, 'China was not waging a war against Taiwan,' considered by the Communist nation a rebel province. Kashmir was a 'thorny issue' and it could only be solved by mutual understanding and trust, said Bhutto, who along with her husband Asif Ali Zardari offered prayers at the Dargah of Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer yesterday. Hailing the recent CBMs undertaken by India and Pakistan by opening up more routes for travel, she said such people-to-people contacts could play an important role in generating goodwill. Advocating a pluralistic society and polity in Pakistan, Bhutto said political parties with different agendas could work together in her country taking a lesson from India. 'My own Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has arrived at an understanding with another maintsream moderate party of former Premier Nawaz Sharif (PML-N) to work together for restoration of democracy in Pakistan.' 'We (PPP and PML- N) are not merging into a single unity because we do not see each other eye-to-eye on several issues. But it should not mean that we cannot work together to tackle certain national issues,' Bhutto said. In India, she said, Congress and BJP were poles apart but they were having consensus over certain democratic institutions like the Election Commission. 'We can also have differences between mainstream parties but there might be a broad agreement too between them over certain issues.' Turning to her country's political scene, Bhutto alleged that the political system put in place by President Pervez Musharraf had failed to deliver and called for early polls. Demanding that the military should be sent back to the barracks, she said 'we are worried that the military is being politicised and used against the people in Waziristan (tribal region) and (southwest) Baluchistan (province).' She said if Musharraf was sincere about his reported offer of reconcilliation with mainstream moderate national political parties, he should go for early elections. Bhutto, further said that since the Parliamentary polls are scheduled to be held in 2007 'let us have, in the transitional period, fresh Presidential election.' Musharraf should keep himself above the fray and should not pick and choose political parties if he sincerely wanted the return of democracy in Pakistan, she said, alleging that while religious parties were being patronised in the present dispensation, moderate parties were victimised. Welcoming permission by the Government for a reception for Zardari when he returns to Pakistan on April 16, Bhutto said 'it will be a test of Musharraf's reconciliation offer.' About her plans to lead PPP by returning to Pakistan, Bhutto said people of her country wanted to 'see me elected as Premier for the third time despite the fact that Constitution does not allow more than two terms for a leader.' An elected Government only could provide political solutions to various vexed issues faced by Pakistan, she said. Asked to comment on Musharraf's future, she said it would depend on international situation since he gave the world community an 'impression' that he was supporting global fight against terror. However, she hastened to add that internal situation in Pakistan was different where there had been 'all round frustration' among the people which could lead to chaos. Claiming that there had been a rise of religious forces in Pakistan, she alleged that judiciary had been crippled and bureaucracy politicised while expressing apprehensions that the situation might end in the disintegration of the country if democratic process was not quickened. Listing extremism and terror, low education and lack of health services as key issues faced by Pakistan, she favoured federalism, decentralisation and devolution of power to tackle them effectively. Strongly advocating an economic alliance among south Asian nations to face fierce competetion in present globalised market, she said the countries in the region, including India and Pakistan, must come together to form a common market as only 'economy of scale' could win in the globalised scenario. Noting that Pakistan and India have huge manpower, large middle class and big markets which could be used as assets to play important role in a globalised economic order, she said they should use their assets as a measure of strength to bring together south Asian countries to develop a common market.