Kashmir is our national interest: Musharraf
28 June 2002
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, says that the Kashmir cause is the ''national interest'' of Pakistan and that there is no question of compromising on the issue. Speaking at the National Defence College here on Thursday, Gen. Musharraf said that his Government would never compromise on the ''national interest.'' It was wrong to presume that the Kashmir issue had been ''buried'' in the recent talks with the United States and the Western Governments. ''No question of any compromise on Kashmir'' has been Gen. Musharraf''s refrain in the last few days, particularly since the U.S. made it known that he had committed himself to permanently ending infiltration across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. He is emphasising at every available opportunity that his Government has not compromised — nor will it do so — on the Kashmir issue. Clarifying that Pakistan was pursuing its Afghan policy in the light of the changing circumstances, Gen. Musharraf said ''but Kashmir is our national interest and we will never compromise on that.'' Policies could be changed but the ''national interest'' could not. To a question from the audience, he said that Pakistan and Kashmir co- existed. The issue needed to be resolved amicably through peaceful means, in accordance with the United Nations resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. Gen. Musharraf, who was given a presentation on the ''suggested National Security Strategy for Pakistan'' strongly defended the package of constitutional amendments proposed by the National Reconstruction Bureau. Rejecting a proposal to make the Prime Minister the head of the National Security Council instead of the President, Gen. Musharraf said the Council would have to be headed by the President to ensure strong checks and balances among the three ''power brokers'' — President, Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff. ''I don''t have any political agenda and ambitions, and that is why I feel that the President should head the NSC.'' He justified the proposed restoration of the presidential power to sack the Prime Minister if he or she acted against the ''national interest.'' The main objective of the NSC would be to facilitate the Prime Minister and ''not'' create hurdles in his way as was wrongly perceived by some.