January 2006 News

Musharraf Pushes Kashmir Plan Before Indo-Pak Talks

6 January 2006
The Indian Express

Islamabad: President Pervez Musharraf told Kashmiri separatist leaders that he hoped India would respond positively to Pakistan's proposal to demilitarise the disputed Himalayan region and grant it self- governance. 'For any solution to Kashmir to be durable it has to be in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiri people,' Musharraf was quoted as saying by the Associated Press of Pakistan. His reported remarks were made during a meeting late on Thursday with leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference visiting from Kashmir. Musharraf said Pakistan and India had moved forward on Confidence Building Measures since starting a peace process two years ago, but needed solid progress on conflict resolution, according to the Pakistani news agency. Pakistan wants to inject more urgency into the peace process, particularly regarding the Kashmir dispute. Musharraf's comments came before a January 17 meeting in New Delhi between India and Pakistan's foreign secretaries for a third stage of their 'composite dialogue', which aims to resolve a range of issues between the two rivals. So far the most significant result has been the opening of road links across the Line of Control, dividing Kashmir. Both governments were criticised for refusing to shed their long-held mutual distrust to ease the plight of Kashmiris caught in the earthquake that struck both sides of the border on October 8. They did, however, exchange aid supplies after negotiations. Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said proposals for self-governance in Kashmir should be addressed. 'These proposals should be discussed and taken forward formally, beginning with the next round of Pakistan- India dialogue at foreign secretaries' level,' he said.


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