Kashmiris' role in talks essential: Musharraf
ISLAMABAD, April 11: President General Pervez Musharraf on Monday underscored the imperative need for a fair resolution of the long-standing Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
The president stated that Kashmiris will have to be part of the negotiating process at some stage and emphasized that no solution of Kashmir would be acceptable without consultation with the Kashmiri leadership on both sides of the Line of Control and taking into account the aspirations of the people of Kashmir.
He said that there had been positive indications from the Indian side in this regard. He said that as the LoC was part of the problem, there was no question of accepting any solution which gave permanence to it in any form.
Receiving Kashmiri representatives of All Parties Hurriyat Conference and leaders of Azad Jammu and Kashmir representing all shades of political opinion, days ahead of his scheduled visit to New Delhi, President Musharraf assured them of Islamabad's continued moral, diplomatic and political support in quest of a lasting solution to the dispute.
Gen Musharraf said that there had been no change in Pakistan's principled stance on the Kashmir issue, which was plebiscite in accordance with relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions. However, he said that if India were to show flexibility, Pakistan would also be prepared to reciprocate and show flexibility. "This flexibility will never be unilateral", the president asserted.
He described the recently commenced Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service as an appreciable confidence-building measure that would help alleviate the sufferings of the people on both sides of the LoC and allow the divided families to meet.
Appreciating the flexibility shown by India over the initiation of the bus service, the president emphasized, the bus service is not a substitute for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, adding that flexibility, courage and boldness on the part of both Indian and Pakistani leadership could lead to a Kashmir solution, acceptable to all including the people of Kashmir.
The Kashmiri leaders, in their remarks, assured the president of their wholehearted support and appreciated his forthright emphasis on Kashmiris' participation in the talks process.
They expressed their gratitude to Gen Musharraf for presenting the Kashmir case convincingly and powerfully during his meetings with world leaders and at international fora, including the United Nations.
They assured the president of their unstinting support and expressed full confidence in him for talks with the Indian leadership on the issue during his forthcoming visit to India. -APP