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Just what is it that Musharraf wants?

The new carrot that Pakistan President has dangled in front of India is just a ?non-starter?, writes Meenakshi Iyer.

india Updated: Feb 14, 2006 18:30 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's disenchantment over the so-called 'lack of progress' in peace process is showing up and this explains the reason for his recent demilitarisation proposal.

Towing in with the General, leading Pakistan daily Dawn says: "The basic reason behind new ideas floated by Islamabad is to show India that Pakistan's approach to Kashmir is not hide-bound, that it is flexible on the issue and that it expects New Delhi to adopt the same approach."

Suggesting a new formula for peace in Kashmir, the General had asked its nuclear-armed neighbour to pull out troops from three districts of Kashmir -- Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramulla - in exchange for Pak's help to root out terror.

And like his previous proposals in past, the recent one too hasn't raised eyebrows in India. The latter outrightly rejected the offer and interestingly, this time, it has got support from the Pak media too.

An editorial in leading Pak daily Daily Times has called Musharraf's three-city formula a 'predictable non-starter'.

"…We can say that General Musharraf has simply used another occasion to chide India. Chiding will not help. If it had helped the peace process the matter of Kashmir would have long been put to rest."

In the past also, India rejected the General's proposals without batting an eyelid.

Musharraf took the whole country by surprise in 2004 when he said that plebiscite was not a solution to the Kashmir problem.

He suggested that India and Pakistan should consider the option of identifying some "regions" of Kashmir on both sides of LoC (Line of Control), demilitarise them and grant them the status of independence or joint control or under UN mandate.

The editorial goes on to say that the suggested idea may be right but the way in which it has been presented could be wrong.

The Indians, as the paper says, have time and again said that bilateral proposals in the interim should be presented officially and an answer should be awaited before going public.

"But, President Musharraf, they say, has made it a habit of treating India to all sorts of new ideas on Kashmir in his public meetings and interviews…

By now one should be quite used to the pantomime: Musharraf presents a new idea, India rejects the new idea the same day using the same channel. Therefore a good idea may be rejected because of the way it has been presented," the Daily Times said.

The editorial also explains why there was an angry edge to India's response to the proposal this time.

"The Indian side has repeatedly complained that President Musharraf shoots off his "important proposals" for the resolution of half-a-century old dispute with India in a most off-the-cuff fashion…"

The External Affairs Ministry spokesman in India, Navtej Sarna had said responding to Musharraf's brainchild, "Any demilitarisation or any redeployment of security forces within the territory of India is a sovereign decision of the Govt of India and cannot be dictated by any foreign Govt."

Stating another reason for India's angry outburst, the daily said it might be due to Pakistan Govt's allegation of Indian involvement in Balochistan insurgency.

Pakistan had said on Monday it has evidence that links its rival India to tribal unrest in Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province.

First Published: Jan 11, 2006 21:29 IST