Manmohan Singh welcomes Musharrafs Kashmir proposal
16 December 2006
The Daily Times
New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has welcomed a proposal made earlier this month by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to settle the Kashmir dispute, an Indian official said on Saturday. Musharraf repeated a proposal of a phased plan to solve the decades-old Kashmir dispute, in which he said Pakistan would abandon its claim to the region if India agreed to give the territory autonomy under joint supervision by both countries. When asked about the proposal, the prime minister said any effort in the direction of normalisation of Indo-Pak relations is welcome, said an official, who was with Singh when he made the comments to journalists on board his plane returning to India after a visit to Japan. The official, who declined to be identified, quoted Singh as saying he had accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan next year. Musharraf wants Pakistan and India to focus on the parts of the former princely state of Kashmir that are genuinely disputed by both sides. For example, Pakistan might give up any claim to the mainly Hindu areas, if India renounced its claim to the overwhelmingly Muslim areas. This would leave a majority Muslim region centred on the Kashmir Valley, most of which is now under Indian control but a part of which is ruled by Pakistan. The valley is also the centre of a 17-year-old insurgency against Indian rule which New Delhi accuses Islamabad of backing. The two sides would then soften the border dividing Kashmir until it became irrelevant, so that people and goods could move freely. A phased demilitarisation would follow on both sides of the current line of control dividing Kashmir. Autonomy or self-government would then be offered to Kashmiris, under the joint supervision of the two countries.