February 2003 News

Russia Can Help Solve J&K Issue: Musharraf

3 February 2003
The Times of India

Moscow: Ahead of his visit to Russia, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has charged India with 'deliberately obstructing' efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue and said Moscow can play an important role in facilitating an early solution to the dispute. 'I would brief the Russian leadership on the genesis of the (Kashmir) dispute and our efforts towards finding an early solution of the dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiris. I would also ask for their support in these efforts,' he said in interviews to major Russian news agencies on the eve of his three-day Russia visit beginning on Tuesday. He said Kashmir issue has been at the heart of tensions and conflict in South Asia since 1947 and accused India for 'deliberately obstructing all efforts for an early solution of the dispute in accordance with the wishes of the Kashmiri people as envisaged in UN Security Council resolutions.' 'The Russian Federation as a global power and a close friend of India can play an important role in facilitating an early solution of the dispute,' Musharraf said. In an obvious reference to Moscow's repeated calls to stop cross-border terrorism against India and dismantle terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, he said his country is totally opposed to terrorism and is committed to combating menace in all its forms and manifestations. 'We are co-operating actively with all countries, including Russia, in this regard, in accordance with our international commitments under the UN resolutions and the international instruments on terrorism to which Pakistan is a party,' Musharraf said. Noting Russia's traditionally strong political, economic and military links with India, Musharraf said development of a stronger relationship with Pakistan, 'not directed against the interests of any third country', would assist in maintaining a balance in South Asia, which is vital for the stability in the region. He also sought Moscow's support for joining the Shanghai Co- operation Organisation (SCO). India has also expressed desire to join this group in which China and Russia are the main players. In 1999, Moscow had scuttled Islamabad's China-backed application to join this regional forum focusing on combating terrorism. 'We believe that Pakistan's entry to the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) will help in bringing the two countries even closer in combating terrorism. We are looking forward to Russia's support in this regard,' Musharraf said. At the bilateral level, the two countries have already institutionalised cooperation in combating terrorism on a regular basis. The first round of bilateral consultations on terrorism was held in Moscow in December 2002. The issue was also discussed during the meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability held in Moscow in January this year.


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