June 2003 News

Lull on LoC cannot be sustained: Musharraf

19 June 2003
The Hindu
Hasan Suroor

LONDON: The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, has warned that the current lull on the Line of Control may not last indefinitely if India does not 'reciprocate'. Even as he offered to take 'two steps towards peace' if India took one, Gen. Musharraf today made it clear that the present situation when &*151; as he put it &*151; 'nothing' was happening on the LoC could not be sustained for long in the absence of any movement on Kashmir. 'When I say that there is nothing happening on the Line of Control, I am very sure that there is nothing happening but all that I say is that this situation is not sustainable for long periods. You cannot keep a military on high alert for a long period, and you would not like people to turn their guns against you and undermine your own Government because you are selling out, because there is no reciprocation coming from the other side,' the Pakistani leader, who is now visiting Britain, said in an interview to the Asia Today programme on BBC World. Gen. Musharraf insisted that what was going in Kashmir was a 'freedom struggle' and said reciprocity from the Indian side was necessary for the success of his efforts to control cross-border terrorism. '...all that we try to do in Pakistan gets to a nought because there are definitely elements sympathetic to the freedom struggle in Kashmir and these very elements then start blaming the Government for a sellout. Therefore while we take action, there has been to reciprocation from the Indian side,' he said. The General's remarks were seen to have echoes of a previous statement &*151; later denied &*151; which was construed in New Delhi as amounting to a threat of another Kargil- like 'war'. The Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, then in London, had reacted strongly saying no meaningful dialogue was possible in the face of such remarks, though he sought to put an end to the row after Gen. Musharraf claimed that he had been misquoted. Observers feel that his latest remarks are likely to revive the controversy. Gen. Musharraf welcomed Mr. Advani's statement that India was willing to make compromises in the interest of peace. 'I am very glad that he is prepared to make compromises towards peace &*151; if India takes one step, we will take two steps towards peace,' he said but repeatedly claimed that India was not responding to Pakistani gestures. In reply to a question, Gen. Musharraf said that Pakistan had offered 'seven confidence-building measures' but 'we haven't got a reply as yet, so the ball is entirely in their court'. Asked if he agreed that there was 'distrust' of him in India and that he was seen as someone who was behind the Kargil operations, he said: 'Unfortunately, these aspersions are cast by the Indians.' He blamed India for the breakdown of the Agra summit, and about the prospects of another high- level talks within this year, he said: 'I think there will be. (The) Pakistani leadership wants it. It depends on the other side whether they want to extend the other hand also.'


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