September 2002 News

Musharraf rejects acceptance of LoC as Kashmir solution

10 September 2002
The Times of India
IANS 

WASHINGTON: President Pervez Musharraf has dismissed reports that India and Pakistan are moving toward accepting the Line of Control — the military ceasefire line in Kashmir — as a permanent boundary. ''That is not a solution because as we keep saying it (the line) is the problem,'' Musharraf, who is in the US to attend the UN General Assembly session, said in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor. Reports had emanated in the last weeks from both India and Pakistan that the two countries were prepared to consider the LoC as the permanent border. Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha told newsmen here on Monday that New Delhi had not commented on them but that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had gone on record rejecting such a solution. Musharraf wanted Washington to resume ''substantial'' arms sales to his country to help ensure a ''balance of power'' in the troubled region. The US suspended the arms sales in protest against Pakistan''s 1998 nuclear tests. On Jammu and Kashmir, Musharraf insisted that Pakistan was controlling incursions by Islamist extremists across the line into India and that ''this should lead to reciprocation...this must lead to a response from the Indian side''. ''I personally have taken a number of decisions which have been very sensitive to our country and the reciprocation has not come,'' Musharraf said. He added it was time for the world community to ''make India accept a dialogue'', suggesting that the US, in particular, should be more forceful in encouraging talks. ''The US is playing a role and they need to play a stronger role'' in ''mediating'' the crisis over Kashmir, he said. Looking more broadly at what he called the ''standoff'' between India and Pakistan, Musharraf said tensions had fallen thanks largely to the ''strategy of deterrence'' Pakistan had embraced. But he warned that the military balance could be lost, and pressed for the US to resume major arms sales to Pakistan. ''It will be extremely dangerous if the conventional balance of forces is destroyed between India and Pakistan,'' he said. Claiming that India has increased its arms spending by 50 per cent over the last three years, he added, ''Gradually we are seeing a definite tilt in the balance of forces.'' To correct the situation, he wanted the US to ''proactively deny'' India access to high-technology weaponry. Following September 11 and Pakistan''s embrace of the war on terror, most US sanctions were lifted and the rest will be phased out by this fall. The US has approved $230 million in subsidised arms sales and is considering re- establishing a US-Pakistan defence working group. The daily noted that Pakistan is most interested in a hangar of new F-16s -the two dozen it bought in 1989 but which were never delivered, and 70 more. The US says the 1989 purchase was mostly reimbursed after the sale was stopped. Musharraf, however, said the issue of ''our F-16s'' remains a topic of everyday conversation on Pakistan''s streets, suggesting it convinced average Pakistanis of a growing US tilt toward India. He indicated he would bring up the issue when he sees Bush this week at the UN. ''I won''t get into an argument and discussion on that, but one needs to address this issue, especially in the light of all that India is doing,'' Musharraf said. ''I will maybe tell (Bush) again when I meet him.''

 

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