M A I N   N E W S

Musharraf roots for bus to Muzaffarabad
Till then other CBMs can wait

Islamabad, January 16
Pakistan has ruled out initiation of new confidence-building measures (CBMs) with India until the two resolve differences over introducing a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad.

During an interaction with a delegation of Kashmiri leaders here yesterday, President Pervez Musharraf made it clear that Islamabad would not initiate any new CBMs until New Delhi agrees to run the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service for Kashmiris without passports and visas, the Daily Times reported.

“I will personally welcome the Hurriyat leaders at Muzaffarabad if the Indian Government allows them to travel by bus,” Ghulam Nabi Fai, a leader of the Kashmir American Council, who took part in the meeting, quoted the President as saying.

The bus talks have not made any headway during the past few months despite India agreeing to do away with the visas but insisted on passengers carrying a passport, besides permit papers.

Pakistan has been insisting on completely doing away with passports and visas and wanted the bus service to be exclusive for Kashmiris on both sides while India wanted it to be opened for all Indians and Pakistanis.

One CBM that is awaiting Pakistan response is the Indian offer to open five points along the LoC to permit families of Kashmiris on both sides of divide to meet and interact under the joint supervision of Indian and Pakistani security forces.

Foreign Secretary Shaym Saran made the proposal to permit interactive meetings between the Kashmiris specially that of divided families last month during the Foreign Secretary-level talks. Pakistan was yet to respond to it.

Besides ruling out new CBMs, President Musharraf also ruled out accepting the LoC as a border to resolve the Kashmir issue.

“The LoC cannot become the border, nor any plan to change the status of LoC would be acceptable,” he said.

He also told the Kashmiri delegation that the World community has been realising that peace could not prevail between India and Pakistan without resolving the Kashmir issue.

“That is why the world community wants a negotiated settlement,” he said adding the problem also can not be resolved with Pakistan alone demonstrating flexibility. “The other side has to reciprocate”.

During the meeting, President Musharraf also reiterated that Pakistan would continue to provide moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris at all fora.

While seeking solution of the Kashmir issue, Pakistan wanted the CBMs and the dialogue process to proceed in tandem, he said. — PTI

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