M A I N   N E W S

Pervez strikes conciliatory note on Kashmir
Opposes more UN seats
Tribune News Service

New York, September 22
In sharp contrast to the stinging attack he launched against India in his annual address at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session last year, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today struck a conciliatory note on the issue of Kashmir.

Having discarded his army uniform for a cream achkan, General Musharraf spoke the language of peace in his UNGA speech today, saying he was convinced that Pakistan and India can resolve all their differences, including Jammu and Kashmir, through a sincere dialogue.

He also had a special message for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom he is slated to meet on Thursday: “This is the moment for peace. We must not allow it to slip away”.

The man who masterminded the now infamous Kargil war against India today admitted before the world community that the 2002 confrontation and the three prior wars between the two countries had demonstrated that there was no military solution to their problems.

Referring to the confidence-building measures (CBMs) and the composite dialogue initiated by India and that Pakistan this year, General Musharraf maintained Pakistan was pursuing the peace process with complete sincerity and believed it was progressing well in a cordial manner. Having all along advocated third-party intervention in the simmering Kashmir dispute, the Pakistani President also held out a veiled threat to India, stating they were giving bilateralism a final chance.

General Musharraf’s peace overture came as a relief for the India delegation which had been monitoring his speech closely. Although the mandatory reference to Kashmir was expected, the Ministry of External Affairs was waiting to see the context in which it would be mentioned and the tone that General Musharraf would adopt. The general expectation was that the Pakistan President would be soft on Kashmir this time round in view of the successful progress of the ongoing composite dialogue. Clearly, this augurs well for the first Singh-Musharraf meeting tomorrow.

While maintaining that Pakistan was committed to resolving all disputes with India, including the Kashmir dispute peacefully, General Musharraf also showed signs of impatience.

Though he did not repeat his suggestion that India and Pakistan agree on a time frame for the resolution of this issue, he did state that it could not be delayed. He did not fail to mention that any solution on Kashmir must be just and acceptable to India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.

The negotiations with India, according to General Musharraf, were at the difficult stage of grappling with previously irreconcilable disputes. He hoped India would show the same sincerity, flexibility and boldness that Pakistan would demonstrate.

UNI adds: Even as he refrained from launching a tirade against New Delhi, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today strongly opposed any proposal to include India in an enlarged United Nations Security Council.

In his 10-minute address to the world body, the General said his country sought strategic stability with India.

Without naming India directly, General Musharraf said “there is no agreement on the aspiration of a few states to acquire permanent membership of the Security Council. The overwhelming majority of states are against the creation of new centres of privilege.”

The President said the council should be enlarged to ensure the representation of the mostly small and medium states which had joined the UN over the past three decades.

“We have to consider new ideas to craft a consensus on the enlargement of elected members of the Security Council.”

He, however, emphasised that the Security Council should become more effective, democratic and representative.

The elected members are non-permanent members who have a term of two years. 

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