I am making LoC irrelevant: Musharraf
30 October 2005
The News International
Islamabad: As a momentous decision was taken on Sunday by Pakistan and India to open up the Line of Control (LoC) for the succour of quake-hit Kashmiris, President Pervez Musharraf had reason for satisfaction when he declared, 'I am making the LoC irrelevant'. In an interview with Arab News published on Sunday, Musharraf emphasised, 'We should open the LoC. There was a phrase once used by the Indian leadership ... let's make the LoC irrelevant. I am making it irrelevant. I say let's open five points. Let's have easy travel. Am I not trying to do that? So let's do it. There must be political movement. There must be discussions between India and Pakistan, involving Kashmiris, that will lead to results. I am for those results. This is an opportunity. We are spending too much on the military. I am for demilitarisation. If they agree to that, we will too. We are very flexible. We are absolutely open to moving forward to the ultimate solution. You cannot clap with one hand; you can only clap with two.' Musharraf spoke to the Saudi daily a day before the two countries sat down to come to an agreement on crossings at the LoC. He disagreed that Pakistan had haggled over this issue, which had originally come from New Delhi. 'It is unfortunate that anybody has said that Pakistan has haggled on this issue. Pakistan has been haggling on only one issue: Indian military personnel coming across the LoC. On no other issue has Pakistan haggled. As for relief operations, let me repeat that if India wants to send anything, please send it in any amount, in any quantity and in any form. We want relief supplies. Open the LoC. We have opened relief centres at five points on the LoC. We have suggested five crossing points and the Indians are talking of three. So am I haggling or are they haggling? We have opened relief centres there. We would like anybody from Kashmir coming to this side to bring relief goods. We welcome it. I have asked India to allow people from our side of Kashmir to take relief goods inside Kashmir to help in reconstruction. We will allow them to do the same. Is that enough? Now, who is haggling? The only thing is that the Indian military must not cross to our side of the LoC. I always say that we will not accept the Indian military coming into Pakistan'. Predicting the hiccups that arose in the talks held at the Foreign Office, the president remarked, 'If you ask my opinion, there may be some problems which will be created by the other side. Otherwise, I have told you, if they want to come for relief and reconstruction, we welcome that. We want to simplify the procedure. I am open to that. We want to send our people from Kashmir there for relief and reconstruction. Tomorrow you will see for yourself what is happening, whether we are haggling or they are haggling.' APP adds: In the interview, the president also replied to questions about Pakistan's efforts to defuse tension between the United States and neighbouring Iran. He underscored that the world cannot afford to open new fronts and that everyone should work to close fronts. Musharraf said Islamabad would like Iran and Syria to adopt a reconciliatory approach instead of a confrontational one. 'We have played our role. In my capacity, I have told everyone that we cannot afford confrontation with Iran. We cannot open new fronts. I have always said that we need to close fronts. This is our stand and we are playing our role in this,' he replied when asked whether Pakistan would use its influence in reducing tension between the US and the Middle Eastern states of Iran and Syria . Musharraf said he is personally playing a role in this regard. 'The Iranian vice president was here with me (on Saturday). When I go to the US and meet the leadership, I clearly say that we have to close fronts.' 'We cannot afford so many fronts. We have a front in Iraq, a front in Afghanistan, a front in Palestine and a front in Kashmir. Let us close all these fronts because they are affecting the Muslim world.' He felt that that everyone should adopt a reconciliatory approach rather than a confrontational one. 'Let's put an end to terrorism, extremism and militancy. That is the reconciliatory approach that I am talking of,' said the president, whose OIC-adopted concept of enlightened moderation calls on the West to resolve political disputes affecting Muslims with justice and urges the Muslim states to reject extremism in favour of their socio-economic development. Responding to a question vis-a-vis Pakistan's recent contacts with Israel, the president categorically stated that Pakistan's stance on the Palestinian cause remains unchanged. 'There has been no change whatsoever. We are for the establishment of a Palestinian state and Pakistan offers its complete support for the creation of a Palestinian state and a homeland for Palestinians,' he declared. Pakistan has made it clear to Israel that they would have to create a Palestinian state for the cause of world peace and peace for themselves, he said referring to his address to the American Jewish Congress last month.