Resolve Kashmir, Bush tells India and Pakistan
22 February 2006
The Daily Times
Washington DC: President George W Bush said on Wednesday that India and Pakistan must move beyond conflict and come together on other issues where they have common interests, including the Kashmir issue. He stressed a solution to the issue acceptable to both countries. In a major policy speech at Asia Society, timed with his forthcoming visit to India and Pakistan, the president spoke at length about US-India and US-Pakistan relations. He paid warm tribute to President Pervez Musharraf, whom he called “a man of courage and vision”. He said that the US was grateful for his leadership. He said that the US would like the 2007 elections in Pakistan to be “free and fair”. He said the US would help the two countries in their quest for peace. Not long ago, there was so much distrust between India and Pakistan that if the US entered into relations with one, it made the other nervous, he said. It had been the administration’s top priority to end that perception. He said that India and Pakistan had begun to work together to resolve their differences directly. They were increasing direct links, including a rail link that had remained suspended for four decades. Trade between the two had doubled, he said. “The governments of India and Pakistan are now engaged in a dialogue over the difficult question of Kashmir. For too long, Kashmir has been a source of violence and distrust between these two countries. I believe that India and Pakistan now have a historic opportunity to work towards lasting peace. President Musharraf and Prime Minister Singh have shown themselves to be leaders of courage and vision,” he said. He said that during his visit, he will encourage them to address the Kashmir issue. “America supports a resolution of Kashmir acceptable to both sides. It is a sensitive time for South Asia,” he said. He spoke of “attempts to arouse passions that have been used to incite violence”, in a reference to the riots that have rocked Pakistan. He said that America believes that people have a right to express themselves in a free press. It also believes that others have a right to disagree with what is printed in a free press. However, the protests should be peaceful and not violent, he said. He spoke with approval of the priority President Musharraf had assigned to economic development.