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Musharraf's K-fixation

The Pakistan president has expressed hope that issues with India could be resolved expeditiously with courage.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 13:58 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that the Siachen and Sir Creek issues with India could be resolved "expeditiously with courage", even as he praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his "sincerity" to resolve bilateral issues.

Pending a visit by Singh to Pakistan, he expressed the hope on Thursday that there would be progress on the Kashmir issue in light of his proposals.

At a meeting with visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Musharraf urged the international community, including Norway, to facilitate the resolution of outstanding issues between India and Pakistan, the Daily Times said.

His remarks came amidst a continuing debate and speculation among Pakistan's media, security experts and political parties about the import of his proposals made in the course of an interview with India's NDTV.

His observation that Pakistan did not have a territorial claim over Kashmir has met with angry reactions at home and among the Kashmiri separatists on both sides of the border and those settled elsewhere.

Mediapersons walked out of a briefing by Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam who repeated Musharraf's remark, asking why there had been so much defence spending, three wars with India and bloodshed if Pakistan did not 'claim' Kashmir.

The News said in an editorial on Wednesday: "One has to say that this seems like a revelation because while it may be true that Islamabad's emphasis has been all along on demanding that a plebiscite be held in Kashmir to ascertain the will of the people, it has made this demand assuming that Indian-administered Kashmir would vote to join Pakistan through such a vote.

And it has all along ruled out the so-called 'third option' (independence)."

Asserting "Yes, we claim Kashmir," The Nation in its editorial said: "For the president under these conditions to put up a four-point formula, far removed from the sense of UN resolutions, and in the backdrop of this overture for the Foreign Office spokesperson to abdicate the claim on Kashmir, amounts to conceding New Delhi's position."

The paper further warned: "Islamabad should know that any solution not sanctioned by the people's wishes would not bring durable peace; it would only exacerbate ill feeling and distrust that its several vague and incomprehensible proposals have created both among Kashmiris and Pakistanis."

However, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri expressed surprise at the hostile reaction to Musharraf's proposals again saying that there was "nothing new".

"Publicly at least, the Foreign Office says, there has been no response from New Delhi on the "endless proposals" that President Musharraf has continuously been making, hoping to make the atmosphere more conducive to a roadmap for a final solution to the Kashmir issue.

However, it is not known whether any progress has resulted from the latest meetings between the top aides to Musharraf and Singh - Tariq Aziz and SK Lambah - who meet regularly", The News said on Friday.

First Published: Dec 15, 2006 13:58 IST