Focus on Kashmir: Musharraf

ISLAMABAD, JULY 6. The Pakistan President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, today reiterated the theme of `centrality of Kashmir' as the focus of his summit meet with the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Addressing women representatives from different parts of the country, he made it clear that reduction in tension in South Asia was unlikely without the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

Gen. Musharraf said he would like to work with Mr. Vajpayee to initiate a process that would lead to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and that the issue could not be resolved without involving Kashmiris.

He said he was conscious of the fact that this region needed peace and stability, and stability could only be achieved on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect. He hoped that his visit to India would set in motion a process of dialogue and discussions that would facilitate resolution of the core issue of Kashmir.

Gen. Musharraf hoped that the visit would generate an atmosphere of trust and confidence between the two countries leading to steps that would benefit the people of Pakistan and India.

Text of Pak. statement

The following is the text of the Foreign Office statement issued earlier in the day on the alleged ``acts of repression and oppression'' in the Kashmir Valley. ``The Government of Pakistan strongly condemns the recent sharp increase in incidents of rape and molestation of women being committed by Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir. Indian forces have also resorted to unprovoked firing at demonstrators protesting against official connivance at these criminal acts.''

``The Government of Pakistan also strongly condemns the use of civilians as protective shields by Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir, which has also been reported by international media. Despite warnings from international human rights groups, India continues to forcibly use civilians, including minors, for detection of mines in Occupied Kashmir in flagrant violation of the norms of international humanitarian law. The Government of Pakistan calls upon the Government of India to end its repression in Occupied Kashmir and fully respect the norms of international humanitarian law.''