September 2007 News

'Sea Change' In India's Policy: Musharraf

14 September 2007
The Hindu

Islamabad: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said there was a 'sea change' in India's Kashmir policy, acknowledging its 'core issue' status in relations with Pakistan, while Islamabad had not given up 'anything' on its position on the issue. Responding to questions at a weekly television programme, in which he interacts with an invited audience, the President denied that efforts to improve relations between the two countries had stopped. President Musharraf acknowledged it was not going as fast 'as it should have been,' but he also spoke of 'a lot of improvement' in the relations. The programme, 'Aiwan-e-Sadr Se' (From the President's Office), on the state-owned Pakistan Television, is widely seen as an image- improving public relations exercise by Gen. Musharraf in the run-up to his proposed re-election, which has generated controversy, political resentment and opposition. 'What have we given in? We have not given anything. Our official stand [is] that Kashmir issue should be resolved through a plebiscite in accordance with U.N. resolutions of 1948. It remains the same,' he said, expressing disagreement with the perception that Pakistan had changed its position. He said the difference now was that Pakistan was prepared to move away from its stated position if India too did the same. 'We will not move away until they do. This is our stand. If both sides move away from stated positions then we can look for middle path to resolve Kashmir.' He said that earlier India would not acknowledge that Kashmir was an issue between the two countries, but now it did. 'We made our stand clear. Kashmir is the core. There is no doubt. We have also made them agree that Kashmir is the core. Earlier they never used to discuss Kashmir. They never used to recognise it as dispute. It is our diplomacy that made them recognise it as dispute.' Response from India The President also disagreed that there was no positive response from India to his proposals to resolve the Kashmir issue. 'I do not agree that there is no positive response [from India]…Talks are going on. Talks were held with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he is saying that Kashmir needs to be resolved. This is a sea change. So please understand.' There was 'no doubt progress, but there is need to increase its speed,' he said and talked about the improvement in the relations between the countries, as a result of the progress made on the Kashmir issue, including trade ties. 'There is progress in talks but we need to pursue it more strongly,' he said. Both countries stood to gain from improving relations, and if progress was made in resolving the 'core' issue, there would be 'simultaneous' normalisation of ties.

 

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