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We never claimed Kashmir: Pakistan

Pak foreign office says Kashmir issue is about the aspirations of Kashmiris, reports Nilova Roy Chaudhury.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 16:22 IST

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam on Monday said Islamabad had never claimed Jammu & Kashmir as an integral part of that country.

According to reports from Islamabad, Aslam said at a media briefing: “First of all, Pakistan does not claim Kashmir. The Kashmir dispute is about the aspirations of Kashmiris. Pakistan never claimed Kashmir to be an integral part of Pakistan. What we said is, Kashmiris should be able to decide their future.”

Her remarks drew angry reactions from the Pakistani media present. But technically she is perfectly right. As she noted, not one of Pakistan’s successive constitutions since independence ever claimed Kashmir as part of the country. She pointed out that Azad Jammu and Kashmir — or Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), as India calls it — had a president and prime minister. Had it been part of Pakistan it should have had a chief minister and a governor, she said.

Pakistan’s constitution makes no reference to Kashmir; however, the PoK constitution has a provision requiring everyone contesting elections there to declare their allegiance to Pakistan.

Aslam’s remarks appear to signal a shift in Islamabad’s position. MEA officials said she seemed to be contradicting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's statements in a recent interview to news channel NDTV. Asked whether Pakistan was giving up its claim to Kashmir, Musharraf had said, “We will have to…yes…if this solution comes up,” referring to a four-point formula he presented as a possible way to resolve the Kashmir issue — which clearly implied that Pakistan believed it had a claim over J&K.

(With agency inputs from Islamabad)