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Musharraf moots four-part peace process

WASHINGTON, JAN. 20. The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has suggested a four-part process to defuse the crisis in Kashmir, which among other things, would involve New Delhi and Islamabad to accept the centrality of Kashmir to the dispute to enable them to move beyond their long-held positions.

``Indians say `Let's discuss all issues' but sometimes they leave out Kashmir. Kashmir is the core issue,'' Gen. Musharraf told the Aspen Strategy Group which was reported in The New York Times.

According to Gen. Musharraf's four-part process, India and Pakistan must resume an official dialogue, both must accept the premise that Kashmir is central to the dispute, eliminate from discussions what each side finds unacceptable and finally, construct an agreement on the basis of alternatives to their known positions.

Gen. Musharraf referred to the Agra Summit and once again voiced his disappointment to the visiting group of American national security experts that the Indian Cabinet had overturned a declaration which he had negotiated with the Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, and regretted that an accord was ``scuttled'' by hardliners.

The ``body language'' of Mr. Vajpayee suggested that he wanted to be conciliatory on Kashmir, Gen. Musharraf said, adding that India should be more imaginative in its approach.

Initially he was reluctant to crack down on religious extremists, but soon realised that his actions were supported by an overwhelming number of people of his country, he said. ``I thought ten times about putting my hand in the beehive of religious extremism,'' Gen. Musharraf said.

After witnessing the protest of militants ``I realised this was the maximum they could do and that the vast majority of the people were with me''.

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