Hopes for positive Indian response: APHC leaders meet Musharraf
5 January 2006
Islamabad: President General Pervez Musharraf on Thursday expressed the hope that India would respond positively to Pakistan’s proposals of demilitarization and self-governance in Kashmir to facilitate a lasting solution to the lingering Jammu and Kashmir dispute. During a meeting with APHC leaders Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Ghani Lone, he said that Pakistan and India had moved forward on confidence-building measures but called for substantive progress on conflict resolution. “For any solution to Kashmir to be durable it has to be in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiri people,” he said during a meeting with the APHC leaders at the Aiwan-i-Sadr. President Musharraf reaffirmed Pakistan’s moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris for a fair settlement of the dispute. APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq later told newsmen that the leadership in the Indian occupied Kashmir fully supported the president’s proposals for demilitarization and self-governance and saw a momentum building up on solid basis on these proposals. These proposals should be discussed and taken forward formally, beginning with the next round of Pakistan-India dialogue at the foreign secretaries’ level. “Let there be a genuine discussion on these ideas. Pakistan has shown flexibility, the Kashmiris are willing to move forward, so India will have to come forward,” he said. However, he said, a step- by-step approach will have to be adopted for substantive and result- oriented progress on the long-standing Kashmir dispute. “These ideas are at an initial stage - still being discussed, still are developing - we have to see how we can move forward - we cannot say that everything is finalized - it will take sometime - but I am confident that this is the way forward.” The APHC, he said, “fully supports President Musharraf’s proposals” in terms of step-by-step approach for a fair settlement of the dispute and would debate it openly at public level. “Pakistan and the people of Kashmir have unanimous position that Kashmiris’ aspirations will have to be taken into account for finding a durable solution.” He expressed satisfaction with the APHC delegation’s meeting with President Musharraf and said his diplomatic efforts and initiatives “have brought the dispute out of a long stagnation” and “now there is a growing realization for settlement of the dispute”. He added “The agony of Kashmiris has to come to an end.” He described meeting of APHC leaders with the president as very useful and said that Pakistani leader was categorical in his emphasis that Kashmiris’ aspirations would not be ignored.