Proposal for 'joint management' of J&K came from India, says Musharraf
10 March 2006
B. Muralidhar Reddy
Islamabad: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Friday asserted that the proposal for 'joint management' of Jammu and Kashmir as a step towards resolution of the contentious issue emanated from India. Addressing a conference of Washington-based Pugwash think tank here, he lamented India's 'lack of response' to the proposals for resolution of Kashmir. It is the second such brainstorming by the think tank involving Kashmiri leaders and eminent personalities from India and Pakistan. Among the participants from India are National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik. About 50 delegates are taking part in the three-day conference to discuss ways of accelerating the peace process and debate on the proposals of self-governance, demilitarisation and enhancement of people-to-people contacts. In his long interaction, General Musharraf turned to his Principal Secretary and interlocutor with India, Tariq Aziz, and said: 'Tell me if I am wrong in my observation that the proposal on joint management came from the late J.N. Dixit.' 'Misunderstanding' According to informed sources, as there is no way the information could be verified, it appears a case of 'misunderstanding' by the General. 'To the best of my knowledge the late Dixit only talked about mechanisms for joint management in areas like tourism and environment to enhance the comfort level of Kashmiris,' a participant, who claimed to be in the know of the mind of Dixit, told The Hindu. Gen. Musharraf said Pakistan's proposals of 'demilitarisation, self-governance and joint management' offered a tenable solution and urged the Indian leadership to come forward with a timely response to realise the 'fleeting opportunity' for durable peace in South Asia. Gen. Musharraf said: 'There is need to take on board all stakeholders — Pakistan, India and Kashmiris — to arrive at a final solution, which is acceptable to the trio.' 'I strongly believe that an environment exists at the moment, both regionally and internationally, for an ultimate solution to Kashmir — the environment has never been so conducive.' He said Pakistan's proposals addressed the concerns of all three parties. 'Such a solution would neither required redrawing of borders nor make the Line of Control permanent. It would instead be made irrelevant,' the President said. Demilitarisation 'At the same time, demilitarisation will comfort Kashmiris, who have suffered for far too long — demilitarisation will be a huge confidence-building measure and it will also help discourage militancy.' Pakistan, he said, was prepared to discuss proposals for troops pullout from Kashmir and renewed his call to India to start discussions on withdrawal from the defined territories of Kashmir. Describing the presence of Kashmiris of all shades of opinion as a good omen, Gen. Musharraf said he would, if invited, attend such a conference in Srinagar or New Delhi alongside Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Pakistan, President Musharraf said, was prepared to show flexibility if India demonstrated reciprocity for a workable settlement of the dispute. Any proposal offering a solution to the decades-old dispute should be discussed openly and should not be shrouded in 'secrecy.' He said the recent dialogue process and unique understanding between the leadership of Prime Minister and himself should be grasped with 'flexibility, sincerity and courage' from all sides. Reviewing the progress in the peace process, he said both confidence- building measures and conflict resolution should move forward in tandem. For, in the absence of conflict resolution the CBMs would lose their effectiveness. Durable progress 'South Asia is looking for peace — the dividends of peace will be unimaginable for one-fifth of humanity living in the region. The SAARC member- countries cannot move forward without dispute resolution, which is essential for durable progress.' Gen Musharraf agreed with a participant, who advocated greater interaction between Kashmiri leadership on both sides of the Line of Control and said it was he, who proposed opening up five points along the LoC after last October's earthquake.