April 2005 News

Musharraf’s 3-phase formula on Kashmir

18 April 2005
The News International

New Delhi: Warning that Kashmir remained a flashpoint which could erupt in a future frame, President Pervez Musharraf advised opponents of the peace process to take into account the viewpoint of the other side while putting across their contentions. 'All aspects of a matter must be taken into view before making up your mind about a particular issue,' the president responded to a question at an exclusive chat with Pakistani media here on Monday at the conclusion of his three-day visit to the capital, New Delhi. Musharraf gave a three-phase formula for the resolution of Kashmir dispute that envisages sincerity and initiative from the top to establish correct direction as the first phase while looking for a durable solution with consensus in the second phase and a firm decision with flexibility at the third stage. 'Sincerity and flexibility was oozing from Indian leaders who not only heard my contentions on Kashmir with patience but also responded very positively,' the president said and glowed that his visit proved 'to be a success beyond expectations'. He dispelled the impression that Kashmir never figured high during his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying that all issues, including Kashmir, were discussed threadbare. The discussions covered every issue between the two countries in a very frank manner from Kashmir to Baglihar dam, Siachen, human rights situation in held Kashmir, pipeline and opening up of more routes. 'Sincerity and flexibility by my host led us to make progress on Kashmir. We have certainly decided to move forward for the final resolution of Kashmir,' he said, adding the issue is so contentious that it must be analysed and viewed in correct perspective. 'I know we will move forward,' he said empathically. The president admitted that human rights situation is the worst in the Valley and that something has to be done to alleviate the miseries of Kashmiri people. He said he has raised the issue of the withdrawal of troops from the Valley 'but what to do when the Indians raise the issue of violence and terrorism?'. Likening the standoff on the issue of human rights in the Valley to the classic egg-and-chicken debate, Musharraf said Pakistan says 'stop atrocities' and Indians say 'stop terrorism'. 'Now where to go and what to do since we have to see both the views. After this we should adopt a middle way?'. He said that besides the three-phase formula to approach the stage for options, there are many other options that can be examined by the two sides to reach a settlement. This may include independence, self-governance, joint control, etc.' 'Now, we have to put all the ingredients in a pot and cook out a viable solution to the dispute,' he said while admitting that both India and Pakistan are in fact in a dilemma over the finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the Kashmir dispute. Musharraf took exception to the Indian prime-minister's remarks that map of Kashmir cannot be re-drawn saying, 'I don't agree with the Indian host and I have told him that LoC cannot be a solution. Once again, the two sides are in catch 22 situation even on the status of LoC. 'I told Dr Manmohan Singh that let us do something where boundaries become irrelevant. This was his justification for the new set of CBMs that the two sides have agreed in the Delhi joint statement'. Sounding a bit dismayed by the divided APHC and other Kashmiri leaders, the president said every time we talk to the Kashmiris, the situation becomes even more complicated even if they belong to Azad Kashmir. He said he is wholeheartedly for the inclusion of Kashmiris in the process of dialogue but may be at a later stage. He said: 'I have told the APHC and other Kashmiri leaders that either they trust me and allow me to go ahead with talks on Kashmir with India or find someone else.' They must choose one leader who can negotiate on their behalf but how can 15 different people, who are also divided, negotiate in an effective manner?' Musharraf said he is sincere and honest towards the cause of Kashmir. Pakistan is ready to welcome the Kashmiri leaders for talks in Islamabad. After this, we can talk to India and it will be a trilateral dialogue on Kashmir. He said the bus service, trade routes and people-to-people contacts are going to benefit the Kashmiri people. Agencies add: Musharraf warned on Monday that Kashmir remained a flashpoint between India and Pakistan. The core issue of Kashmir, Musharraf told Indian media before wrapping up a three-day visit to India, would take time as a solution acceptable to India, Pakistan and Kashmiris, had to be found. Ruling out a military option, he warned, however, 'Unless we resolve the dispute it can erupt again under a future frame.' 'I think all issues that bedevil relations are solvable in a few sittings,' the general said. 'It is only one dispute which will take time and that is the Kashmir dispute because it needs a lot of attention and lot of wisdom towards arriving at a conclusions.' Musharraf said by 'softening' the dividing line could never be the solution to the dispute over the Himalayan territory. Easing restrictions along the ceasefire line, once described by the United States as the world's most dangerous flashpoint, would include more family contact across the frontier and more cross-border travel, trade and cooperation. 'This is what I call going towards a soft border,' Musharraf said. 'But a soft border is not a final solution. The LoC cannot be accepted as a final solution.' Some analysts had believed softening the ceasefire line could eventually lead to it forming a new border to end the dispute. On Siachen, Musharraf said India and Pakistan should end their dispute over the glacier, so scientists can carry out research. 'The sky is the limit. We can then carry out all research together of the (Siachen) glacier,' he said. Both sides, however, would have to be flexible, he said of their row over the glacier, which analysts say lost its strategic value after India and Pakistan both declared they had nuclear weapons in 1998. 'We need to correct maps on both sides. We need to understand that it is not that only Pakistan needs to correct its maps,' he said.


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