Zardari Backtracks On J&K Terrorists Remark, Says Pak Policy Unchanged

6 October 2008
The Times of India


Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari has backtracked on his remarks describing militants in Jammu and Kashmir as 'terrorists' saying there is no change in Pakistan's Kashmir policy, a day after his comments triggered an outcry in this country. The Pakistan government clarified Zardari's stand in an official statement asserting that the President has never called the legitimate struggle of Kashmiris 'an expression of terrorism.' Former premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N was among other parties which had slammed the President for his remarks in an interview to 'Wall Street Journal' which was welcomed by India as a good step. In the statement, Information Minister Sherry Rehman said Pakistan was committed to the Kashmiri people's right for self-determination. The President, she said, had 'made it very clear that the just cause of Kashmir and its struggle for self-determination has been a consistent central position of the (ruling) Pakistan People's Party for the last 40 years'. 'There has been no change in this policy,' Rehman said. 'The President has never called the legitimate struggle of Kashmiris an expression of terrorism, nor has he downplayed the sufferings of the Kashmiris. All his statements on India should be viewed in the context of Pakistan's current bilateral relations with that country,' she added. The government 'is firmly committed to extending moral and diplomatic support to the just cause of Kashmiris for their right of self-determination,' Rehman said.