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Musharraf: withdraw troops from three places in Kashmir for militancy to end

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Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf

B. Muralidhar Reddy

"Withdrawal of troops from three places would end militancy"

Reiterates "formula" to divide Jammu and Kashmir into seven regions Disagrees that some Army commanders do not back peace process

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that if India agreed to withdraw troops from Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla to the "outskirts," there would be no militancy in the Kashmir valley.

In a frank and open interview with Karan Thapar for the newly launched CNN/IBN television news channel on Saturday, Gen. Musharraf complained of a non-responsive attitude from India towards Pakistan's ideas for resolving the Kashmir issue. The interview is to be telecast on Sunday night.

Gen. Musharraf reiterated his "formula" of dividing Jammu and Kashmir into seven regions. The formulation envisages the identification of trouble-torn regions in both Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and their administration with joint control by India and Pakistan.

Gen. Musharraf's proposal, unveiled during 2004 Ramadan, was criticised by most parties and players on both sides on the ground that the division of Kashmir was unacceptable.

'Another bomb shell'

Gen. Musharraf talked about the need for withdrawal of Indian troops from the three towns in Kashmir in response to a question on the "demilitarisation" of Kashmir. "Let me give another bomb shell, I propose, one way of moving forward ... Take three towns, Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla. Let all the military move out of the cities to the outskirts, [it will] ensure there is no militancy inside," he said. "A degree of disappointment in me is setting in. I am throwing up ideas but the ideas are not coming from the other direction. Not much of response that is why the disappointment," he said, talking about the progress of dialogue with India. He disagreed that some of his top commanders did not back his peace initiatives with India and asserted that he would "throw out" any Corps Commander if he declined to obey his orders or opposed them.

"Let me tell you, this is not a banana republic army. It is an army that fought wars. It is an extremely disciplined army. It is totally loyal and committed to me. I know that."

Gen. Musharraf termed as nonsense reports in the Pakistani media stating that a "powerful clique of religious parties within the military establishment" worked against him. "If they were they would be out of the Army tomorrow."

Gen. Musharraf accused India of providing financial support to insurgents in Balochistan and said he was "disappointed" and "annoyed" over the concerns expressed by India over military operations in the province.

But he said the "irritant" would not be allowed to upset the peace process.

"It [the allegations over Balochistan] should not be a setback to the process of dialogue on the resolution of disputes. I am not only disappointed, but annoyed. ... Now that you are asking, definitely it is a direct interference in our internal affairs."

He claimed there was a lot of evidence of Indian involvement in Balochistan but said he would not like to comment on it.

Asked whether there was proof to support the allegations, he said, "Lot of indications, yes indeed, such as financial support, support in kind being given to those who are anti-government and anti-me, people who are anti-nationals."


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