October 1999 News

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Pak ready to take up Kashmir issue with India

19 October 1999
Daily Excelsior

LONDON: Pakistan is prepared to take up Kashmir and all other contentious issues with India as a package, its new military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf has said.

I am prepared to deal with India on all contentious issues as a package and the status of Kashmir cannot be treated separately, Gen Musharraf said in an interview published in the Guardian newspaper today.

The General, who sacked the Nawaz Sharif Government in a coup on October 12, however, said neither had he called Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee nor was he planning to do so.

In his first interview with a British newspaper, the Chief Executive of Pakistan said accountability was the key factor and his first task was a thorough cleansing of the nation. We will start at the top and work down. Nobody is out of the ring. We have a lot of work to do.

Gen Musharraf said he proposed to announce the caretaker Government in a few days. The delay, he said, had not been due to indecision. The delay has been getting the right people.

The Army Chief, in the interview conducted before Commonwealth suspended Pakistan from the body yesterday, said Islamabad always had a special relationship with China.

On ties with the US, he said, in a unipolar world, relations with the United States are very important.

The 56-year-old General said he was happy at the way things were going. I have been encouraged by the reaction of the international community (to my address to the nation on Sunday). They seem to understand that we (Pakistan) are facing huge problems and had to act.

Gen Musharraf admitted that last week I had a very tense time and was initially extremely apprehensive. Now things are unfolding and we can see the sort of support we are getting in the country and outside. I feel very happy.

In a separate interview, he told Turkish television that he admired former military ruler of Turkey, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, and regarded him as a model. I have read his biography. We will see what I can do for Pakistan, he said.

Gen Musharraf said he was a little tired, but that is to be expected. One has to make sacrifices when there is work to be done.

Asked whether he was enjoying himself in his new role, the General said, to put it frankly, it’s always nice to be in charge. (PTI)


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