March 2008 News

Kashmir an “integral part” of Pakistan: Zardari

8 March 2008
The Hindu

ISLAMABAD: Following a barrage of criticism about his remarks on Kashmir in an interview on Indian television, Pakistan People’s Party leader Asif Ali Zardari has now described it as an “integral part” of Pakistan, and said he would never betray the sacrifices of those who had given their lives for Kashmir. In an interview to the Urdu-language daily Jang and its sister publication The News that was shown on the media house’s Geo television on Saturday, Mr. Zardari said India and Pakistan had “admitted positions” on Kashmir. “Just as India says Kashmir is its atoot ang, let me borrow the phrase, it is an atoot ang for us too.” He clarified that “all that I said” in the interview on Indian television was that “let us bring this back door diplomacy that’s been going on for the last five years to the front door, let us play the ball on the pitch.” Mr. Zardari said in an interview to CNN-IBN last week that India and Pakistan should “agree to disagree” on their stated positions on Kashmir and focus on building economic interdependence through trade. He also said the normalisation of relations between the two countries should not become hostage to the Kashmir issue. In the interview to Jang and The News, Mr. Zardari said the Kashmir issue was the reason for the founding of the PPP by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “I started my political mission from Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s grave at Garhi Khuda Bhuksh. If I have to keep her trust, how can I betray the trust of 90,000 other martyrs who have lost their lives in Kashmir?” Earlier this week, in a “clarification” of his remarks on Indian television, the PPP said it stood for “resolution of the Kashmir dispute and normalisation of relations on the basis of respect and honour.”

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