April 2007 News

Musharraf Best Bet For Peace In Kashmir, Says Mufti

8 April 2007
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf may be the best bet for a solution to the Kashmir crisis, said former J-K chief minister and People's Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. The Mufti, who maintained there was a 'possibility of a breakthrough' on Kashmir, said Musharraf was in a position to take steps that a civilian government would take longer to implement. 'If anyone can deliver, Musharraf can deliver,' he said during an interaction with The Indian Express here on Saturday. When asked if India could trust the general, the Mufti said that politics was the art of possibility. He said, 'People here say he is the best bet.' Musharraf's four-point proposal to solve the Kashmir issue has also made the task easier, he maintained. When former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee extended a hand of friendship, it was not a futile attempt but a step based on ground reality. He said the Pakistan president, too, was someone who knows the ground reality. 'They did not get anything from war and then insurgency and that's why they are talking of a resolution now,' he said. The Mufti said the 'process of reconciliation and dialogue is irreversible'. The Indo- Pak joint anti-terrorism mechanism had also helped in sending a strong signal that Pakistan was serious when it spoke about fighting terror, he said. 'As far as Musharraf and the government (of Pakistan) are concerned, they are cooperating,' the Mufti said, when asked how serious Pakistan was about working towards ending militancy in Kashmir. He, however, hinted that there are still some organisations that might still be supporting militancy. The Mufti, who said he had requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convene the third round table meeting on Kashmir, was clear that a solution to the Kashmir issue had to be 'all-inclusive'. 'The Hurriyat should be part of the process,' he said. The moderate Hurriyat Conference had not attended the second round table conference held in Srinagar last year. After the meeting, the prime minister had set up five working groups to look into diverse issues such as confidence- building measures across the border, Centre-state relations, rehabilitation of militancy victims and economic development. The Mufti also spoke about a possible 'consultative, cooperative mechanism' between both parts of Kashmir. 'We can cooperate on disaster management or hydel power projects,' he said. On his demand for relocation of armed forces, he said the forces should gradually move back to their barracks. The army is not trained to tackle internal aggression. 'Wherever the Army has been replaced by paramilitary forces or the police, the situation has improved,' the Mufti said.


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