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LoC as border not a solution, says Musharraf

WASHINGTON JUNE 26. The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has said that India being the larger country should show "magnanimity" and make more compromises if a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem is to be realised.

Gen. Musharraf dismissed the idea that the Line of Control (LoC) could be turned into an International Border as a way of achieving permanent peace.

"We have fought three wars on this Line of Control. You are proposing a solution which is the dispute itself. How can a dispute be a solution," he asked in response to a question.

Gen. Musharraf was participating in an afternoon session organised by the United States Institute of Peace here.

He said that in his view Kashmir was the only issue between India and Pakistan and warned that New Delhi's insistence on the status quo would not be facilitating a peace process.

"If, instead of a peace process, India insists on the permanence of an unjust status quo in Kashmir, when this status quo has been the problem from the very outset, then it would be creating obstacles to a peace process, rather than facilitating it," he said.

"The onus or initiative for reconciliation and accommodation is always shown by a larger country... if Pakistan during mediation (takes) steps to compromise, it is seen as a sellout, it is seen as a sign of weakness. While if the same thing is done by a larger partner, India, it is seen as a sign of magnanimity and a sign of greatness," Gen. Musharraf observed.

On a high profile visit to the U.S. that included a summit meeting on Tuesday at Camp David with the President, George W. Bush, Gen. Musharraf said that he was extremely encouraged by the recent overtures of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and said that he looked forward to the resumption of the dialogue process.

"Despite many disappointments and differences of the past, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and I are ready to acknowledge Prime Minister Vajpayee as a partner in a historic peace process. This should be aimed at altering negative public attitudes and stereotypes on both sides of the border while moving towards a broad range of cooperation and a just and mutually acceptable resolution of Jammu and Kashmir and other issues," Gen. Musharraf said.

While the onus was on India, Pakistan was willing to play its role, Gen. Musharraf said but warned that there were principles that could never be compromised with.

Gen. Musharraf reiterated his four-step peace process that he originally proposed at the Agra summit in 2001 — envisaging a meaningful dialogue; acknowledging the centrality of Kashmir in the India-Pakistan dispute; discarding unacceptable positions; and, finally, focussing on win-win scenarios acceptable to all parties, including the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

"I believe this is the only way forward. I have long expressed my readiness for dialogue at any level, time and place," he said. "We are committed to a peace process. We do not believe in violence as (a) means to peace... We realise our stake in better relations with India. If India can adopt a similar attitude towards relations with Pakistan, then our efforts to resolve our differences on Kashmir and other issues need no longer tread the barren paths of the past," Gen. Musharraf maintained.

`Cannot give guarantee on infiltration'

In a conversation with the reporters and editors of The Washington Post, Gen. Musharraf said that there was "no mathematical answer" to cross-border terrorism and that his country had done all it can and cannot be held responsible "to ensure, to guarantee that not a bird will fly across the Line of Control". He was replying to a question on his assessment of the situation on the LoC.

" ...this cross-border terrorism has no mathematical answer, there is no mathematics involved... I can't answer you how much infiltration is going on, I don't know. For me there is no infiltration going on... ."

Gen. Musharraf said he would not be able to give a guarantee that nothing was taking place across the LoC. But, at the level of the Government, the Pakistani leader argued, it had been ensured that nothing ought to be happening across the LoC. "... Pakistan cannot be held responsible to ensure, to guarantee that not a bird will fly across the Line of Control. It's not humanly possible. Let the 700,000 troops of India do it. Why aren't they doing it? They've got 700,000 troops. Because it's not possible, Gen. Musharraf said.

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