Monday, May 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee’s move courageous: Pak

Islamabad, May 27
Major-General Rashid Qureshi, the spokesman for Pakistan’s military regime, has termed Atal Behari Vajpayee’s invitation to General Pervez Musharraf as “courageous”. He said both sides needed to show flexibility to solve the 54-year-old Kashmir dispute.

In an interview with ANI Television, Qureshi said: “There are stated positions on both sides which the years have hardened”.

Qureshi said: “I think it’s a courageous decision. I think it is a right decision by the Indian government and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and both countries can sincerely work toward the resolution of this crisis”.

“Flexibility” is needed to be shown by both sides to come close and to get to any area which is acceptable to the people of Pakistan, the Indian government and the people of Kashmir”, he added.

However, Qureshi, who once commanded Pak army on the Kashmir front, said it was “too early” to take a decision on the ultimate solution. He said India should honour the UN call for Kashmiris for plebiscite.

Qureshi said he expected a “quick” formal Pakistani acceptance of the invitation. He further said talks would follow after Vajpayee’s recovery from a knee-operation, which is scheduled for early June Vajpayee’s formal invitation letter reached Islamabad on Friday.

The Pakistani spokesman said he was hopeful that the talks would be fruitful. “We do perceive a change because this is perhaps the first time that India itself has mentioned the Kashmir issue needs to be resolved”. “What has not been concentrated on is Kashmir and that is what has given rise to friction and tension”, he added.

Qureshi said that turning the line of control into a permanent border between the countries was “not an option”.

India’s stand is that Kashmir is an integral part of the country and its future is not subject to international negotiation. It blames Pakistan for the so-called revolt in Kashmir. ANIBack

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