November 2005 News

Musharraf sees quake as a chance for Kashmir solution

16 November 2005
The Daily Times

Rawalpindi: Last month's earthquake is a chance for India and Pakistan to reach a 'final solution' to their dispute over Kashmir, President General Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday.But India also needed to grasp the opportunity as 'you don't clap with one hand', Musharraf said at a media briefing about the October 8 earthquake.Since areas of Kashmir on both sides of Line of Control had suffered, 'I think it is an occasion which should be utilised to reach out for a solution of the Kashmir dispute,' he said.'I only hope that both sides have realised that a permanent, final solution of Kashmir is more possible now because Kashmir has been affected,' he said.Gen Musharraf appealed to the international community to pledge $5.2 billion for quake relief and reconstruction, but said Pakistan would help itself if the funds don't come.Musharraf said that Pakistan had so far received 'negligible' funds from donors, but expressed confidence it could raise the $5.2 billion needed. This includes $3.5 billion for reconstruction, $1.5 billion to sustain relief efforts and $100 million for rehabilitation.'We should be able to raise this amount,' he said. 'I have spoken to world leaders and their responses have been very positive.'Musharraf said that if the funds he sought were not forthcoming, it would affect Pakistan's development, particularly the social sector. 'We will do it ourselves if the world community does not help us,' he said, but added that the world should assist Pakistan as it did nations hit by last year's tsunami in Asia, and Hurricane Katrina in the United States.He said Pakistan would complete its planned distribution of Rs 20 billion to quake survivors within 15 days.The president condemned a recent incident in Sangla Hill where a Muslim mob burned two churches after a Christian allegedly burnt copies of the Quran. He said investigations were underway and urged the Muslim and Christian communities to be tolerant of each other.Gen Musharraf said Pakistan has yet to give the final go-ahead to a $1 billion purchase of an airborne surveillance system from Swedish firms Saab and Ericsson.'We haven't decided it as yet. I need to look into it,' Musharraf said when asked if the deal could be delayed. Faced with the pressures of rebuilding after the earthquake, Musharraf said his government had to 'take stock of the entire financial situation'. agencies


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