Pakistan Says No Unilateral Concession On Kashmir
28 October 2004
Karachi: Pakistan is ready to show flexibility to resolve the Kashmir dispute with India, but will not make any unilateral concession to its nuclear-armed rival, Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said on Thursday. Speaking after India responded cooly to fresh Kashmir peace proposals put forward by President Pervez Musharraf, Kasuri said the president was simply laying out lines for debate. 'He has not given any hard and fast solution,' he said. 'He has given bare outlines so that debate can start. It requires self-confidence to start debate on an issue. Ducking from issues won't help.' Speaking at a news conference, Kasuri stressed that that any solution to the Kashmir dispute should reflect the aspirations of Kashmiris, and also be acceptable to both Pakistan and India. 'We are talking not in unilateral terms. There will be no unilateral flexibility by Pakistan,' he said. On Monday, Musharraf called for a debate on new ways to solve the dispute that has caused two of the three wars between Pakistan and India since independence from Britain in 1947. Speaking to local journalists, he said possible steps included demilitarising Pakistani and Indian Kashmir, followed by transition to joint control, U.N. supervision or independence. India responded by saying it expected such ideas to be discussed as part of a formal dialogue process, not through the media. Kasuri said both countries needed to move away from their stated positions if they were to resolve the dispute. He said demilitarisation, dismissed in the Indian media as unrealistic, would 'dramatically' lower tensions and help improve the human rights situation in the Indian part of Kashmir, where a bloody secessionist movement has been raging since 1989. Musharraf's proposals came ahead of talks between Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and his counterpart Manmohan Singh in New Delhi towards the end of next month. Speaking to foreign diplomats in Islamabad on Thursday, Aziz said Pakistan was 'encouraged' with the progress in its dialogue with India and he believed all issues would be discussed during his visit, including Kashmir. Hindu-dominated India rules about 45 percent of the Muslim- majority state and considers all of it an integral part of its territory. Muslim Pakistan controls about a third and China the rest. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of abetting a bloody revolt in its part of the territory that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the late 1980s. Pakistan insists the revolt is indigenous. Since November 2003, the two countries have maintained a truce along the jagged military ceasefire line that cuts through the territory, gradually mending relations since coming close to a fourth war in 2002. But there has been little progress in their talks on finding a solution to the dispute.