August 2000 News

Ceasefire is a window of opportunity - Musharraf

2 August 2000
Indian Express
ANJALI MODY

London: Musharraf Says Cease-fire is ''Window of Opportunity'' Pakistan''s military ruler General Parvez Musharraf has described the Hizbul Mujahideen cease-fire in Kashmir as a ''window of opportunity'' which must not be wasted. General Musharraf said that India and Pakistan ''must make use of this ... because it won''t last forever.'' He also said that he supported a '' no-war pact'' between India and Pakistan and wanted to ''forget the past'' in building peace in the region. The General was speaking live from Army House in Rawalpindi on BBC-Online''s Talking Point, taking questions from callers and emailers in Pakistan, India, and elsewhere. In reply to a question about Pakistan''s role in the cease-fire he said, ''there''s no role of the Pakistani government. This is an indigenous effort that is going on.'' Asked if his statement amounted to a support for the cease-fire, he said ''I wouldn''t like to comment on whether we support the cease-fire or not.'' He added: ''It is up to India and Pakistan together to take this opportunity and initiate the process of dialogue towards a resolution of this long-standing dispute. We must not waste this opportunity that has come our way.'' Asked by a caller if he expected other militant groups to respond to the cease-fire General Musharraf said: ''there has to be reciprocity.. dialogue .. reduction in forces.. reduction in atrocities .. and this may encourage others to join the bandwagon.'' But, Gen Musharraf said, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee''s comments did not give much hope of this. He said, ''Look at the rhetoric from the other side. Look at the prime minister''s comments. He''s only talking about (dialogue with) the Hizbul Mujahideen. He''s talking about keeping the Kashmir issue within the Indian constitution... a sincerity of purpose is not seen at all.'' Commenting on the statements in Srinagar and Delhi that the massacre 84 civilians in Kashmir in the last 24 hours was part of Pakistan''s plan to sabotage the peace process, Gen Musharraf said: ''frankly that''s a habit .. the trend in the past .. even in the case of the civilian Sikhs in Chiitisinghpura the ISI and Pakistan were blamed .. but these things have their own dynamic .. we certainly condemn the killings.. and there is no involvement whatsoever of Pakistan in it.'' Replying to a question from a caller from Bombay about Pakistan''s aggression towards India, General Musharraf insisted that it had ''always been India on the offensive''. He added: ''I am saying lets forget the past .. I want peace.. I am for a no-war pact .. for a reduction of armed forces.. for talking to the leadership of India at any place. ... the ball is in India''s court.'' General Musharraf was asked if he was to meet the Indian Prime Minister during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September. He said '' I cannot comment on that''. He added, ''the desire to meet must be mutual .. I have said I would like to meet .. there does not seem to be a response from the other side .. I can''t do this unilaterally.'' Asked by caller what he was doing to curb the regional arms race and prioritise economic development in Pakistan, General Musharraf said, ''frankly other than doing things unilaterally we are doing nothing.'' He added: ''India has increased defence expenditure by 28 percent .. they see themselves as a regional and world power.. and this is part of their larger design. We don''t see ourselves as that and are maintianing a minimum deterrent.''

 

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