Monday, March 9, 2009

Thus spake Musharraf

Resolve core issue of Kashmir: Musharraf

New Delhi, Mar 8: The former president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has called for resolution of the key dispute and core issue of Kashmir and end to atrocities against Muslims in India for rooting out terrorism and stressed the need for ‘’burying the past’’ for peace and development in the region.

 In a hard-hitting valedictory address at the ‘India Today Conclave’ here last night, Gen Musharraf said outfits Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba had come into being because of their sympathies for the Kashmiri people who had been waging a non-violent struggle since 1947, which took the form of militancy in 1989.
 ‘’Kashmir remains a key dispute and core point. We had a freedom struggle since 1947. The non-violent movement turned into militancy because of the public sympathy in Pakistan for the people of Kashmir which gave rise to dozens of free-lance Mujahideen groups. Terrorism and extremism are a state of mind. 
 If we have to kill terrorism and extremism, we have to change our state of mind. We need to address terrorism and extremism in long and short term
 perspective. Long term is to see why there is terrorism and extremism. It is a deep issue. Don’t take it lightly,” he said.
 Alienation of minorities in India was also leading to terrorism and this needed to be attended to by the political leadership here. “This needs to be taken cognizance of by political leaders here,” he said.
 To a question on Dawood Ibrahim Musharraf said he did not know where he was. He, however said, that relations between India and Pakistan would not improve even if Dawood was deported to India. “This is a small issue. I do not know if he is there. I too have a long list of people that India needs to give us. Individuals are a small issue. We need to look at strategic issue. I do not think handing over Dawood will change anything. I know it will not help in easing tensions between the two nations, if that happens then you will have to handover Dawood back to Pakistan,’’ he said in reply to a question after his address.
 Responding to a question on Pakistan’s involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, he said Pakistan government should treat a terrorist as a terrorist and bring the perpetrators to justice. 
 Calling for ‘’burying the past and the burden of history,’’ he said the situation demanded reducing trust deficit and elimination war hysteria. On Kargil, he said it was a sensitive issue and a link in the chain of Kashmir issue. He declined to elaborate.
 Seeking to demolish the common belief in India that ISI and the Pakistan Army were responsible for all anti-India activities, he said they, in fact, were in favour of peace between the two countries.
 He, however, accused Indian external intelligence agency RAW of being involved in Jalalabad and Kandahar in Afghanistan and said both ISI and RAW should stop acting against each other.
 Exhorting India to make the borders ‘’irrelevant’’ and ‘’tear down the Line of Control’’ Gen Musharraf said ‘’this (the LoC) is another Berlin Wall it needs to be torn down.’’ 
 He called for stopping ‘’Pakistan bashing, Pakistan Army-bashing and ISI bashing’’ in India for peace in the region. Describing terrorism, under-development and hostility against each other as the three main challenges facing the two countries, Gen Musharraf said the situation demanded bold and affirmative steps to ‘’overcome the burden of history,’’ reduction of trust deficit, through genuine Confidence-Building Measures and avoiding hysteria.
 He said he had given a formula during his Presidency for resolving the Kashmir conflict which included making the LoC irrelevant, disengaging and demilitarisation and giving maximum self governance to the people of Kashmir.
 ‘’Resolution of disputes involves give and take. There cannot be only take and take and there is a demand on political leaderships in both countries to take bold steps. If you don’t, it (terrorism) will go on and on.we must not open new fronts,’’ he added.
 Blaming India for slowing down the peace process and ‘’wasting’’ four years, Gen Musharraf said at the Agra Summit, he, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar and India’s External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh had almost reached a joint declaration.
 ‘’Unfortunately, some force behind the scenes sabotaged the attempt and we could not reach an agreement. We lost two and a half years after the Agra Summit. We re-started the peace process and back-channel diplomacy there was a purposeful dialogue on Kashmir. But we lost another one and a half years,’’ Gen Musharraf said.
 ‘’Terrorism and extremism have to be defeated. But how? We have to have a realistic and clear understanding of the root causes and critical issues. If you don’t it will carry on and on, there has to be a holistic approach towards eliminating terrorism, consider some ground realities...we need to address them Kashmir remains the key dispute and core point,’’ he said.
 Gen Musharraf also blamed India for whipping up war hysteria following the attack on Indian Parliament, saying ‘’after your troops build-up, we reciprocated...Hysteria was whipped up in India by media and political leadership...On our side, we tried our best to cool tempers.’’ 
 Calling for stopping the ‘’blame game,’’ he said ‘’look at the reality, forget the past and look ahead. I don’t know what I did wrong, but I can tell you I tried my best for peace between India and Pakistan. I was never negative when the opportunity for peace came to me.’’
 The former President said the important thing was confidence building by greater people-to-people affinity. ‘’Once the confidence is there, we should move towards resolving the core issues, and stop meddling with the internal affairs of each other’s country.’’
 Asked for his comments on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, he said, ‘’Let’s stop the war hysteria. Just a day into the investigations, the Pakistani army and the ISI was blamed for it.’’ 
 Gen Musharraf said he was for a considered and matured response to these issues and as far as the investigations were concerned, Pakistani government should fully cooperate and the guilty should be punished.
 Asked if there were any terrorist camps in Pakistan, he said both countries had done enough damage to each other.
 ‘’I am aware of what the Indian Embassy is doing in Jalalabad and Kandahar. A terrorist from Kabul has been received by Indian intelligence agencies in India and looked after. I have documents to show this. Let us stop the blame game. India is a big country. You try to do damage to us, we will do damage to you. We should address the trust deficit between the two countries. The ISI does the same thing as the RAW does. There is no distinction.’’
 To a question on Taliban taking over Pakistan, he said areas in North West Frontier Province where the problem is, account for less then one per cent of the population. ‘’There is no danger of Taliban taking over Pakistan politically.’’
 Gen Musharraf stressed the need for looking at strategic issues and addressing the water issue and the 1960 Indus Water Treaty between the two countries.
 It would develop into a new conflict between the two nations, he warned and said ‘’we have to stick to the Indus Valley treaty’’.
 Gen Musharraf, the architect of Kargil war, declined comment when asked the war began when Mr Vajpayee travelled to Lahore by bus for friendship.
 ‘’I would not like to comment on this issue. I have dealt with this matter in my book,’’ he added.
 Describing the region as a ‘’nuclear flashpoint,’’ he said he stood for peace in South Asia, particularly between India and Pakistan, and said extremists and terrorists should not be allowed to create obstacles.
 Gen Musharraf called upon the political leaderships in both the countries to ‘’grab the fleeting opportunities’’ for peace and warned that such opportunities would not last.

● Alienation of minorities in India was also leading to terrorism
● I too have a long list of people that India needs to give us
● Pak govt should treat a terrorist as a terrorist
● Bury the past and the burden of history
● ISI and RAW should stop acting against each other
● Tear down the Line of Control
● Terrorism, under- development and hostility main challenges 
● Resolution of disputes involves give and take
● Some forces sabotaged Agra summit 
● JeM and LeT came up to sympathies with Kashmiris
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