Nirupama Subramanian

It wants a settlement acceptable to itself, to India and to the people of Kashmir

  • Dispute is about the aspirations of the Kashmiris
  • They have to essentially decide their future

    ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Monday it had never claimed Kashmir as an integral part of its territory, that its legal position was based on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, and that it wanted a settlement that would be acceptable to itself, to India and to the people of Kashmir.

    Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam made these remarks when asked to comment on President Pervez Musharraf's statements to an Indian TV channel that Pakistan would give up its claim on Kashmir if India showed similar flexibility.

    "First, Pakistan does not claim Kashmir. The dispute is about the aspirations of the Kashmiris. According to the UNSC resolutions, Pakistan and India are parties to this dispute, and Kashmiris have to essentially decide their future," Ms. Aslam said at the weekly briefing.

    General Musharraf had not talked about unilaterally giving up Pakistan's position, nor were his proposals new. "He talked about flexibility, the need for flexibility by both sides, and he said that this cannot be unilateral," the spokesperson said.

    Asked to clarify Pakistan's position, she said it was the legal position based on the UNSC resolutions for a plebiscite in the disputed territory. Pakistan "hoped" the Kashmiris would choose to join it, were a plebiscite to be held.

    Ms. Aslam drew attention to Article 257 of the Pakistan Constitution that says, "When the people of the State of Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to Pakistan, the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of the State ... We have had many Constitutions, but that article has always been there ... You don't need any other proof that we have not made territorial claims on Kashmir.

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