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Make boundaries irrelevant, says Musharraf

B. Muralidhar Reddy

"This should be done within my tenure and that of Manmohan Singh"

  • Self-governance, reduction of forces suggested
  • No solution possible on religious lines
  • Kashmiris' concerns should be addressed

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that a solution to the Kashmir dispute lay in making boundaries "irrelevant" and it would have to be done within his tenure and that of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

    Addressing the concluding session of a six-day conference on `South Asian Parliament: Evolving South Asian Fraternity' organised by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) here on Friday, Gen. Musharraf said he had a clear vision on resolution of the Kashmir issue, and India and Pakistan had to seize the "historic opportunity" for final peace.

    Taking the opportunity provided by the presence of 30-odd members of Parliament from India, Gen. Musharraf spelt out the elements of his vision. They included self-governance, reduction of forces in the State along with tackling of militancy and action to make the borders irrelevant. The President expressed the hope that when he met Dr. Singh next time, both sides would identify some issues towards conflict resolution. He was responding to a question from the audience how he looked at the future after his `successful' visit to New Delhi last month.

    Gen. Musharraf and Dr. Singh are expected to meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

    Secular credentials

    Gen. Musharraf conceded that given the secular credentials of India and its sensitivities, there could no solution to Kashmir on religious lines and it would have to be on the regional and people basis. "I am convinced that there is a solution acceptable to India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir," he said.

    Substantiating the point on making borders irrelevant, Gen. Musharraf said every time India contended that boundaries could not be re-drawn, the Pakistani response was that the Line of Control (LoC) could never be accepted as a permanent border. "Ultimately, the solution lies in the formulation of making boundaries irrelevant."

    Gen. Musharraf said any solution to Kashmir would have to address the concerns of sections of Kashmiris for independence. "We have to think on an element of self-governance," he said without elaborating. It was not clear whether the reference was in the context of a demand for independence or the autonomy debate.

    He said human rights violations incidental to the presence of large forces in Kashmir would have to be dealt with along with militancy to move towards demilitarisation. "India says demilitarisation is not possible without stopping militancy. It is a chicken and egg situation. Both [human rights issue and militancy] needed to be addressed in some form."

    The President said there was a need for clarity on both sides on what exactly they meant by Jammu and Kashmir and there was need to define the territory in Jammu and Kashmir that was a bone of contention.

    "We agree there cannot be resolution of Kashmir on religious lines given the secular fabric of India and its sensitivities on the subject. The ultimate solution would have to be on the basis of region and people," Gen. Musharraf maintained. He said the view in his mind on resolution of Kashmir was `not as confused' as his articulation.

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