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Musharraf's wishlist for Bush: Kashmir, cartoons

The US President is visiting India on March 1-3 before travelling to Pakistan on March 4.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 14:37 IST

Even as US President George W Bush is on a trip to South Asia to reinforce ties in pursuit of economic and strategic goals, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has his own wishlist for the American leader, including a deal on Kashmir.

According to Online news agency, Musharraf said Pakistan wanted Bush to push for a deal with India on the protracted Kashmir dispute.

"If we keep talking about cross-border terrorism and not Kashmir then it seems like a pro-India stance," he said.

Bush is visiting India on March 1-3 before travelling to Pakistan on March 4.

Ahead of his visit, Bush lavished praise on the Indian economy and democracy. He also referred to Musharraf as his "buddy and friend".

He said in Washington last week that he wanted to facilitate talks on resolving the Kashmir problem and that the US would support a solution that took into account the wishes of India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people.

Bush is keen to enhance engagement with India and Pakistan, given that the former is a rising economic power and the latter is a vital ally in the war against terrorism.

Pakistan, Musharraf said, had already proved to be an essential ally in the war on terror -- providing intelligence and a base for troops when needed.

But the US had to reciprocate, said the president, adding that Washington must push for a law banning blasphemy, referring to the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in the European media that led to violent protests throughout the Muslim world.

He also wanted US help to seal Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

Ties between the two countries have seen a downswing after Kabul blamed Islamabad for pushing terrorists into its territory.

Irked by Afghan President Hamad Karzai claims that Taliban leader Mullah Omer was hiding in Pakistan, along with other key Al-Qaeda leaders, Musharraf said, "We have three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

"They are hotbeds of activity. We don't want them in Pakistan. Let's give money and send them to Afghanistan. Nobody helps us to normalise things but they are quick to blame us."

Refugees who fled after the Russian invasion and who are still living in refugee camps in Pakistan.

Asked about his promise to hold "fair and democratic elections in 2007", Musharraf, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, said they would go ahead though he has failed to set a date.

First Published: Mar 01, 2006 13:32 IST