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No change in Kashmir policy: Pakistan

world Updated: Oct 06, 2008 23:06 IST

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Facing flak for President Asif Ali Zardari's description of militants in Jammu and Kashmir as "terrorists", the Pakistan government on Monday said there was no change in its position and it was committed to the Kashmiri people's right of self-determination.

Information Minister Sherry Rehman said there had been no change in the Pakistan's policy on the Kashmir issue. 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."

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.

The main opposition PML-N had on Sunday taken exception to Zardari's description of militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir as terrorists and said it would raise the issue in parliament. Zardari's statement was also criticised by hardline religious groups.

Zardari made the comment during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. In the same interview, Zardari also said that "India has never been a threat to Pakistan".

Rehman described the ongoing Pakistan-India composite peace dialogue and several confidence-building measures as examples of the "warming bilateral relations".

"However, our efforts for peace with India will not be traded off with our principled stand on Kashmir," she said.