M A I N   N E W S

Pak talks of dropping 1948 UN resolution

Rawalpindi, December 18
Pakistan is ready to drop long-standing demands for the implementation of UN resolutions over Kashmir and meet India “halfway” in a bid for peace, President Pervez Musharraf said.

But, speaking less than three weeks before an important South Asian summit in Islamabad, General Musharraf said he was prepared to be “bold and flexible” in an attempt to resolve the Kashmir issue.

“We are for the United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Pakistan’s military ruler said in an interview at his home late last night. “However, now we have left that aside.”

“If we want to resolve this issue, both sides need to talk to each other with flexibility, coming beyond stated positions, meeting halfway somewhere.”

Relations thawed this year and the two armies agreed to a ceasefire last month along the Line of Control.

General Musharraf said this represented a “very real opportunity” to make peace, but warned India not to throw away the chance by continuing to spurn offers for talks.

“The basis of everything, the basis of a reduction in moving forward on a process of dialogue,” he said.

“If that political dialogue doesn’t come about, who wins and who loses? It is the moderates who lose and the extremists who win, and that is exactly what has been happening.”

President Musharraf refused to be drawn on how to settle the Kashmir issue, but said any solution had to be acceptable to Kashmiri people as well as to both countries.

“We have come to a stage where there is a thaw in relations, where there is expectation on both sides in the people,” he said. “If the leadership doesn’t rise to the occasion, it is a pity and I think we’ll disappoint our public again.”

But General Musharraf warned that he would not plead for an audience with Mr Vajpayee next month.

General Musharraf also criticised India for taking advantage of the ceasefire to accelerate fencing along the Line of Control, a move he said showed New Delhi’s “insincerity” about seeking a peaceful solution.

Amid talk of peace, the General’s anger at India often boiled over. “I do strongly believe that they are intransigent, they suffer from arrogance of power,” he said. “I am a proud Pakistani, I will never submit.” — Reuters

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