Mufti appeals to Musharraf
17 December 2006
Srinagar: Hailing the peace process as the best bet for a solution to the Kashmir issue, the former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday appealed to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to persuade the militants to shun violence and sit for talks. Mr. Sayeed, who has just returned after leading a non-official delegation to the United Nations, said, 'If the peace process is on, there is no need for guns.' Asking militants to lay down arms, he appealed to General Musharraf to use his 'good offices' to end militancy. 'If the gun is silenced, it will be a great relief to the people who suffer and are caught in the crossfire. It will also reduce the need to deploy security forces,' he said. Mr. Sayeed said the peace process was heading in the right direction as both India and Pakistan had shown flexibility. 'They are moving forward,' he said, adding that the people of Jammu and Kashmir deserved appreciation for supporting the process. On his party's 'self rule' proposal, the People's Democratic Party founder said, 'it is an idea with wider connotations.' He termed the opposition National Conference's demand for greater autonomy as part of the 'self rule' concept. Mr. Sayeed said that in General Musharraf's latest four-point plan only the 'joint management' would require a debate in the wake of the broader understanding between India and Pakistan that borders could become irrelevant but cannot be redrawn. 'It is the opportunity of the century for India and Pakistan to settle the Kashmir issue.' He disagreed with the view that New Delhi was not responding positively to General Musharraf's proposals. 'I think back channel diplomacy is working and the only grey area is joint mechanism.' He also hailed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's round table conference initiative after which five working groups were set up. 'These working groups are addressing both the internal and external dimensions,' he said. He criticised the NC's boycott of the Working Groups.