Saturday, July 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Kashmir blocked peace: Pervez

Islamabad, July 20
General Pervez Musharraf at a news conference in Islamabad on Friday.-- Reuters photo Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf tonight said resolution of the Kashmir “dispute” was the biggest confidence building measure for normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan and rejected New Delhi’s position that he was “unifocal, rigid and segmented” in this regard during the summit meeting in Agra.

“Resolution of the Kashmir dispute is at the heart of Indo-Pak confrontation and this is the only issue that is blocking peace between us,” General Musharraf told a crowded press conference for which Indian journalists were specially invited.

“Can we have peace without resolution of the Kashmir dispute, certainly not,” he said adding that the two countries should not shy away from acknowledging the reality. The Pakistani leader said he did not go to India for point scoring. “It is not a football match where we score goals against each other. ... It is too serious a business (where) future of two countries is involved.”

There was no question of who won or who lost as it was not a game of football but let justice, truth and right prevail, he said and appealed to both sides not to be “boasting or chest-thumping.”

Hoping that both Mr Vajpayee and External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh would “honour us with their visit,” General Musharraf said he had gone to the summit in a “very sincere search for peace” and wanted to “close the chapter of hostility, mistrust and suspicion” between the two countries.

“I went for peace for the sake of the deprived who constitute one-fifth of the humanity living in the sub-continent,” he said.

President Musharraf tonight said though he returned from the Agra summit “empty-handed” he had nearly six hours of one-to-one talks with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee “90 per cent of which was focussed on Kashmir.”

General Musharraf said, “I returned empty-handed but I am not disappointed.”

He said he was not disappointed as there was tremendous goodwill and understanding generated.

Refuting India’s suggestions that he was being “unifocal, narrow and segmented” in his approach to the Kashmir issue, President Musharraf said: “I am only trying to lay focus where it belongs. I am again just laying the proper focus”.

At the same time, the President asserted he was not saying that there was no other issues that bedevilled Indo-Pak relations.

He said the other issues between the two countries could not be compared to the Kashmir issue.

“We need to keep correct focus on the Kashmir issue while going along on all other issues,” he said adding that it was not true “we (Pakistan) just want a solution of the Kashmir issue. There has to be simultaneity and a tandem approach”.

The other issues listed by him was Siachen, “strife-torn Kashmir”, Sir Creek, strategic and nuclear restraint, Tulbul barrage, economic relations and Jinnah house in Mumbai. PTI


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