April 2005 News

Kashmir Issue Can't Be Resolved In A Day: PM

18 April 2005
The Hindustan Times

New Delhi: Asserting that territorial disputes like Kashmir 'cannot be resolved in one meeting', Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said its ultimate resolution should be seen as part of a step-by-step process where the human dimension gets precedence over other things. In an interaction with the Editors' Guild of India at his 7, Race Course Road residence following the three-day visit of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, the Prime Minister said such issues are more amenable to resolution, if one looked at it more as a human problem than as a territorial problem. He said both countries should give primacy to the human dimension of the Kashmir issue by removing restrictions on the movement of people, trade, investme'Out of that will emerge a new sense of interdependence that will force India and Pakistan to work together' to find a larger solution to the issue at some stage. 'Bureaucratic restrictions will not matter after some time,' the Prime Minister said in outlining how he saw an eventual resolution of the problem. He said the momentum set forward by such cross-border movement could eventually lead to tackling of the territorial issues. He said it was only through a step by step approach that new complementarities can be developed that would then encourage both sides to look for what the Joint Statement released on Monday calls a 'final settlement' of the issue. Stressing that reconciliation is a process and not a one-off decision, Manmohan Singh suggested that Pakistan should not expect an overnight solution to the Kashmir issue and instead work on it together in a gradual process of reconciliation that would create the atmosphere at some stage perhaps to finally resolve the dispute. Earlier in his talks, Manmohan Singh had firmly ruled out 'redrawing of frontiers' and told Musharraf that the coalition government that he headed did not have the mandate to discuss any larger territorial solutions to the Kashmir dispute or reviewing of national sovereignties. Manmohan on Musharraf The Prime Minister, however, said he found Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf frank, sincere, forthright and one who wants both countries to go forward on a new path to bury decades of hostility between them. In the meeting with the Editors, Singh said he enjoyed talking and interacting with him and felt that in him, 'we have a leader we can do business with'. 'Great things can be done if we can build on our atmosphere of trust and confidence and move forward on our composite dialogue process on all issues between us,' the Prime Minister said.Manmohan Singh repeatedly praised Musharraf and his attitude, saying the recently launched bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad to link Jammu and Kashmir and PoK would not have been possible 'without his intervention'. Even after his September 24 meeting with Musharraf in New York last year, his first with the Pakistani leader since he became Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh had told Indian journalists that he found Musharraf a man he could do business with. But on Monday, after three days of interaction with him on various occasions, including two hours of intensive talks, the Prime Minister evidently finds Musharraf - despite India thinking poorly of him previously largely because of his perceived involvement in triggering the Kargil conflict of 1999 - a person sincere enough to be trusted on his commitments to the peace process.


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