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Pakistan will never give up Kashmir: Musharraf

Islamabad, September 12
Vowing that Pakistan will never give up Kashmir, President Pervez Musharraf has said he will convey his country's stand in this regard to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in "unequivocal terms" when they meet in New York later this month.

"We will not give up Kashmir, we have fought wars over it. Pakistan will have to ensure the interest of Kashmiris. I will meet Dr Manmohan Singh (on September 22) and tell him about our stand on the issue,” he told a meeting of Army officers and soldiers at a “garrison darbar” in Quetta yesterday.

However, President Musharraf said there was general apprehension in the world that whatever was happening in Afghanistan and Kashmir was originating from here. Pakistan was also being accused of nuclear proliferation, he said, adding that Pakistanis are generally considered extremists devoid of tolerance.

"Wherever I go I am faced with these questions. I have been refuting the charges, but they stick to their opinion about our people," President Musharraf said.

Cautioning that Pakistan has to face serious consequences if it failed to correct its image, he said, "If the world is not satisfied with our explanation we could be subjected to bombardment. The European community could withdraw trade concessions on our textile industry.

"It will result in the closure of 50 per cent textile mills in the country. Economic sanctions may also be imposed and no country will trade with us. Finally our nuclear capability can also come under attack. We have to dispel these negative impressions about our country."

Stressing that Pakistan's future should be given foremost priority, President Musharraf said the country "comes first. Pakistan is our entity. We have to save ourselves, achieve economic development, enhance our defence capabilities and move ahead with the rest of the world." About sending Pakistani troops to Iraq, he said the country would not send its soldiers under the prevailing conditions in that country, but would consider it when other countries, especially India, send troops.

He said it would be unwise and against diplomacy to close all doors, especially when Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi himself had requested him for sending troops. The decision may be changed if circumstances changed and conducive atmosphere created.

"If ... India sends its troops to Iraq, it would not be wise for us to stay away," he said.

He further said Pakistan would not roll back its nuclear capability and added that during the past three to four years it spent more amount on improving these capabilities than in the past 30 years.

"Defence is the most important priority and all defence requirements would be met," he said, adding that a strategy for the next 15 years had been chalked out to further augment the national defence.

"Our tanks are far better than those of the enemy. We will increase our mobility, communication, air defence and surveillance needs under this strategy. We have enough resources for the purpose. The two pillars of the country defence and economy are strong," he said.

Referring to religious extremism, President Musharraf said the country had no threat from outside but was facing internal threats. "This extremism would destroy us." He also claimed that fugitive camps to train militants existed in south-west Baluchistan and expressed his determination to set things right.

"We know who are behind these activities. There are executors and planners and behind them are masterminds who provide them with money, training and weapons to commit terrorism. But they would be liquidated," he said. — PTI


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