Shujaat for end to rhetoric on Kashmir
3 April 2005
The News International
Lahore: PML President Ch Shujaat Hussain Sunday reiterated his earlier statement that both Indian and Pakistani leadership will have to depart from their stated positions on sensitive issues and take unpopular decisions. Talking informally to a select group of senior editors and column writers at his residence here on Sunday, Ch Shujaat said such an approach alone could ensure peace in the South Asian region and could help finding solutions to sensitive issues including Kashmir. The meeting was called to share 10-member parliamentary delegation's perceptions and observations during the four-day visit to New Delhi. At the outset, Ch Shujaat Hussain requested Senator Mushahid Hussain to speak on his behalf who then took the floor. Mushahid Hussain said there was no basis to assume that there was any fundamental change in Pakistan's Kashmir policy, and added that President Pervez Musharraf had gone a step ahead when he announced that no solution to the conflict would be viable if it was not acceptable to Kashmiris on both sides of the fence. Explaining Ch Shujaat's standpoint on Kashmir, Mushahid said PML President believed that clinging to the 60-year old United Nations Security Council resolution would be wasting time. 'We must take realities into consideration and give up this politics of hypocrisy and put an end to rhetoric. Six decades have passed and the two sides have not moved in inch on the core issue of Kashmir,' he said. To a question, Mushahid Hussain said that traditional Pakistani stance was 'Kashmir first and other issues later' and added that this has now been amended to 'Kashmir plus other issues.' Mushahid said one of the participants of a meeting in New Delhi asked Ch Shujaat why was Kashmir so important to him to which PML chief replied: 'To me Kashmiris are more important'. Mushahid said Ch Shujaat has conveyed to the Indian leadership in clear term that progress should be made on major and minor issues simultaneously by adopting a realistic approach and departing from maximal positions. Mushahid Hussain said the visit of the parliamentary delegation was based on four themes namely: Firstly, if the solutions to Indo-Pak issues were to be found, the decision should be made by the political leadership; secondly, decisions should be bold even if unpopular; thirdly, after attaining the nuclear status, there could be no war between India and Pakistan, and finally, dialogue should be on the basis of equality and India should give up its attitude of hegemony being large in size. To a question, Mushahid said President Musharraf would be visiting India from April 16 to 18 and the visit of the parliamentary delegation has paved the way for meaningful interaction between Pakistani leader and the Indian ruling elite. He said there was uncertainty if the visit would take place or not because of some statements by the extremist Hindu elements, and added that stage was now set for the visit that would provide an opportunity to President Musharraf to discuss various issues with Indian leaders. When Ch Shujaat was asked to give his impressions about the visit, he said one thing has impressed him greatly that on any issue of national interest, the entire Indian political elite - the government and the opposition - are united and speak with one voice. 'It is unfortunate that we lack such a unity and consensus on even issue of vital national importance,' he added. Mushahid said that on the first and second day of the delegation's visit, meetings were arranged with occupied Kashmiri leadership including, All party Hurriyat Conference chief Syed Ali Geelani, Syed Shabbir Shah, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and many others. 'Syed Ali Geelani accused Pakistan of taking a U-Turn on Kashmir issue', Mushahid said and added that Ch Shujaat gave him a categorical assurance that it was a wrong impression citing him examples how deeply Pervez Musharraf was committed to the Kashmir cause. Mushahid said BJP leader, L.K. Advani will visit Pakistan in the month of June this year and visit Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar. Advani will inaugurate renovated temple of Lahoo in Lahore. He added that renovation work at the temple has since been started. Mushahid said: 'Ch Shujaat by inviting him conveyed a message to Advani that his party was responsible for demolishing Babri Mosque while we are reviving- renovating a Hindu temple'. He said the business community during its meeting with Pakistani delegation proposed a two-year visa for traders and business executives and added that similar visa for accredited journalists was also demanded. He said Ch Shujaat believed in party-to-party interaction between Pakistan Muslim League and Congress-I. For this purpose Ch Shujaat wrote a letter to Ms Sonia Gandhi on August 12, 2004 reply of which from her was received on Sept 10, Mushahid said. Mushahid said that Pakistani delegation conveyed its appreciation to Congress-I leadership for continuing BJP policies towards normalization of Indo-Pak bilateral relations. 'We have extended an invitation to Sonia Gandhi to visit Pakistan which was accepted and final dates of the visit would be decided later,' he added. Replying to yet another question, Mushahid said that India's response towards dialogue was certainly under internal as well as external pressure. However, he opined that there should be no outside pressure on India and Pakistan. Mushahid said he asked President Abul Kalam that being father of Indian nuclear bomb, what he thought of the situation in south Asia. 'Now that both India and Pakistan possess nuclear bombs, there is no danger of war any more,' was Kalam's reply. Mushahid said it was a unique occasion when the top leaders of India including President Abul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi were present under the same roof during a dinner hosted in honor of Pakistani parliamentary delegation. He said the delegation had separate meetings with these three leaders as well besides Atal Behari Vajpayee, LK Advani, IK Gujral, Communist leader Kishan Singh Surjeet. He said SAFMA Indian Chapter hosted a lunch followed by a luncheon by Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh at Hyderabad House. Laloo Parshad Yadev also hosted a luch in honor of the delegation. Ch Shujaat Hussain hosted a dinner at Taj mahal Hotel, which was attended by 400 guests representing all walks of life. SM Zafar, who was present in today's briefing also spoke and said that he firmly pleaded with Indian leaders the human rights violations in occupied Kashmir Valley and touched upon Bhagliar Dam issue as well. When asked to comment on the latest situation in Balochistan as member of the three-man committee, Mushahid said the committee will undertake a visit to the province tomorrow and within 36 hours final touches would be given to the understanding reached.