Self-rule is starting point for any dialogue: PoK President
31 January 2006
Muzaffarabad: The President of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Sardar Mohammad Anwar, has said the self-rule proposal propounded by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will be the starting point of any dialogue on the Kashmir tangle. In an exclusive interview to The Hindu , Mr. Anwar said, 'The Pakistan President has come out with a concrete proposal based on the ground realities. He has shown flexibility and now the onus lies on the Indian side to approach the issue with an objective mind.' On the broad contours of the proposal of self-rule, the President said, 'the solution to the Kashmir tangle has to take into consideration the urges and aspirations of the people of Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control. Even the self-rule proposal seeks to do this by giving the people a say in their destiny. Let the Indian side show some open hearted approach and then even the details can be discussed. Flexibility has been shown by the Pakistan side; now the ball is in India's court.' Demilitarisation He defended the proposal of demilitarisation by asserting that the gains of ceasefire along the Line of Control would be extended to other parts of Kashmir. Asked whether the division of the State is ruled out as a solution to the Kashmir tangle, the President said, 'Well, you cannot rule out anything before you go to the table. It is only across the table that the details of any proposal can be discussed. At this stage I would not rule out anything.' According to him, the earthquake was a golden opportunity for the two countries to come closer. He said, 'the delayed response has neutralised the effect. It is a fact that the exchange of relief agreed to between the two countries has been reduced to a symbolic importance and not much could be done to help either side in the hour of need.' On the Pakistan Government's response to India's concrete offer of providing aerial support to the quake devastated belt, the President, who retired as Major-General from the Pakistan Army, said, 'You must understand that in a border area militaries have sensitivities. Even the Indian side would not have allowed Pakistani choppers in the same situation. But nobody stopped the Indian side from making a counter proposal. They could have offered helicopters in the Balakote area of the North West Frontier Province which was an interior pocket and there would have been little objection.'