Musharraf hopeful of Kashmir deal
26 January 2004
NNI - Pakistan News
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said a solution can be found to the Kashmir dispute if both sides show flexibility. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir, which has dominated their relations for five decades. But General Musharraf told the BBC that a solution somewhere midway, acceptable to all three, could work. Earlier this month in talks both India and Pakistan agreed to discuss all issues including Kashmir. It has led to a significant improvement in relations between the two sides who came close to war 18 months ago. President Musharraf said the two sides would 'have to meet somewhere midway'. 'I have been talking of a four step solution. That we start talking first of all, accept the reality of Kashmir, secondly and then eliminate whatever is unacceptable to India, Pakistan and Kashmir. 'And then out of the balance go for a solution acceptable,' he said. But he suggested that the idea of the Line of Control, which divides the two armies in Kashmir, being turned into an international border was unacceptable to Pakistan. We have fought wars over this Line of Control,' he said. 'So a dispute cannot be a solution. Certainly not.' The president said, however, that the environment in both countries was conducive to a solution to the problem 'The public [in India], the vast majority want peace and harmony with Pakistan and they want a solution of all disputes. 'I think we have to be bold and go forward.' He clarified, however, that Pakistan had issued no instructions to Islamic militants fighting Indian rule in Kashmir. 'No orders have been issued at all,' he said. 'They are not under our control.' In a joint agreement signed recently with India, Pakistan said it would ensure that territory under its control would not be used as a haven for terrorism. President Musharraf has recently escaped two assassination attempts which he blamed on Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. But he ruled out suggestions that any Kashmiri militant group was involved. 'This has nothing to do with whatever is happening in Kashmir. Al-Qaeda has nothing to do with Kashmir.' He said Pakistani forces had come across members of the group in one of the tribal agencies in the country's north-west, along the Afghanistan border. 'One of them, the south Waziristan agency, is the place where we have encountered al-Qaeda.' 'They are on the run and they are hiding [but] are not in communication with each other - they are not in contact with each other. So I don't at all think that a strategic threat can develop,' he said. President Musharraf also said it appeared that some 'unscrupulous individuals' may have sold nuclear secrets to other countries but said they acted without the knowledge of the government. 'They have some done something for personal financial gains,' he said. Pakistan began an investigation into possible illegal transfers of nuclear technology to countries such as Iran more than a month ago, following information given by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 'We will punish them,' the president said. 'We are going to be very harsh with them because they are enemies of state.'