Musharraf's Options On Kashmir Very Forward Thinking: Armitage
9 November 2004
The Hindustan Times
Islamabad: Terming Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's recent formulation to resolve the Kashmir issue as a 'very forward thinking,' US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said on Tuesday that he was 'very much interested' in the proposals.'I was very much interested in the proposals that President Musharraf made and looked to me that it was being very forward thinking,' Armitage, currently on a visit to Pakistan, told state-run PTV in an interview, excerpts of which were telecast by the television. 'I think he (Musharraf) has caused a great deal of thinking both in India and here in Pakistan about the way forward,' he said. Armitage was referring to the October 25 'food for thought' remarks made by Musharraf at an Iftar dinner in which he suggested that dividing Kashmir on both sides of the LoC into seven 'regions', demilitarising them and granting them the status of independence or joint control or under UN mandate. Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri subsequently clarified that Musharraf's suggestion was not a proposal and referred to a 'hypothetical situation.' Asked about involving Kashmiri leaders in talks to resolve the problem, Armitage said, 'Kashmiris have to be able to speak their minds and they should be heard and be listened to.'