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Kasuri: India, Pak were close to agreement on Kashmir
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
Revealing for the first time details of the back-channel talks between India and Pakistan during the Pervez Musharraf regime, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri has said the two countries were close to working out the outline of a solution to the Kashmir issue.

“We divided the whole thing into 4 bits. And we tried to talk on each one of those. One was demilitarisation, one was some sort of regionalisation, in both parts of Kashmir, I have forgotten the exact term, then there was some sort of a joint mechanism, there was self-government or something of that nature. These were the four broad areas under which we were discussing Kashmir,” he said in an interview to Karan Thapar in ‘India Tonight’ programme on CNBC TV 18 channel.

Kasuri pointed out that an agreement on Kashmir could not have been possible without the involvement of the Kashmiris. “We thought this would provide comfort to the Kashmiris, and the question was at what time, that was the sort of thing that was going on.”

He replied in the affirmative when asked if it involved demilitarisation in both countries. “The principle of demilitarisation was more or less understood and accepted but the details had not been worked out.”

To another question, Kasuri, a strong votary of good relations between India and Pakistan, disclosed that the two countries were working on giving self-governance to the people on both sides of Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan were also willing to deny themselves the right of calling it a victory.

The fourth element of the proposed agreement was a joint mechanism that would link the two Kashmirs. It was proposed to be composed of representatives from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK), Jammu and Kashmir, Indians and Pakistanis.

The agreements could not fructify because of “sheer bad luck” and because the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Islamabad did not materialise, Kasuri also disclosed that an agreement of Sir Creek was almost ready between the two sides. On Siachen also, there was a lot of understanding.

Kasuri said Musharraf enjoyed a very good relationship with the Indian Prime Minister and trusted each other. “Both thought they could do business with each other,” he said.

It was his belief that the peace between India and Pakistan served Pakistan’s national interest and “I know many sensible Indians who also believe that peace with Pakistan also is in India’s national interest.”

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