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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Sep 2014

World

Solve Siachen, Kashmir can wait: Musharraf
Dipankar De Sarkar, Hindustan Times
London, October 07, 2010
First Published: 19:16 IST(7/10/2010)
Last Updated: 03:19 IST(8/10/2010)
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is seen during an interview with Hindustan Times.

Former President Pervez Musharraf says ties between India and Pakistan can be put on the mend almost immediately by focussing on just two disputes - Sir Creek and Siachen.

Musharraf, who recently launched his own political party in order contest the next general elections due in 2013, said India and Pakistan can tackle these two issues on the basis of previous agreements - without having to address Kashmir first.

Sir Creek, a 96-km strip of water sandwiched by the marshes of the Rann of Kutch, could be resolved on the basis of the findings of a joint survey undertaken by the two navies in 2007, Musharraf told the Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

"Both the navies in my time have carried out joint survey of the creek and its extension into the EEZ (exclusive economic zone) into the sea. So we know the exact conflict area - why can't we solve it? You can declare it as a no-go area for both sides not to enter, or you could say this is a joint holding for joint explorations to be carried out.

"I was ready for any solution," Musharraf said about his talks with the Manmohan Singh-headed UPA-1 government.

About Siachen Glacier, the planet's highest battleground where Indian and Pakistani troops have fought sporadically since 1984, he said the two sides had agreed to the "withdrawal of troops to beyond certain lines - and the only thing that is left is authentication of the present position."

"It is as simple as that - and there were many alternatives that were discussed. So this is a very very simple issue of resolving the Siachen dispute, and I believe that while prime minister Manmohan Singh was very keen, it is the Indian army which objected - this is what I'm told, I'm not 200 per cent sure - although the Indian army suffers may be about 10 times more than what the Pakistan Army suffers because of the terrain and weather acting against them much more."

Musharraf, who spoke in his luxurious west London flat, said the two sides don't have to wait for Kashmir to be resolved.

"One could easily go one by one. It will encourage and build confidence. There was no difference of opinion."

Even on Kashmir, the former general said, India and Pakistan had worked out “some parameters of graduated demilitarisation, giving of maximum self-governance, and thirdly an over-watch mechanism involving India, Pakistan and Kashmiris.”

“There was good agreement,” he said. Returning to his Der Spiegel interview, Musharraf said the link between Kashmir militancy and Pakistan developed in the early 1990s when the terror group Hijbul Mujaheddin “were crushed, and they ran and came into Pakistan.”

“It’s a joke! Lashkar-e-Taiba came into existence in 1991. I came on the scene in 1999 October. (But) I knew what has been happening. Then 9/11 comes two years later and I disqualify all these terrorist organisations. In March 2001, I banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, Janghvi, everyone.”


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