NEW DELHI – Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf revealed the good intentions of Pakistan Army saying, they always wanted to resolve the Kashmir issue, which is the main reason of bad relations between two neighbouring countries. He also added that New Delhi should lead the way of clearing the issues between two countries.
Pushing for a new beginning in relations with India, Musharraf, who now shuttles between Dubai and London, stressed that resolving the disputes over the Siachen Glacier and Sir Creek marshlands, were “doable” and added that the right niyat (intention) was needed to solve these issues.
“The festering wounds of Kashmir continue. We need to resolve the long-standing disputes. These are the causes of hatred, conflict and war,” Musharraf said while delivering the lecture “Uniting South Asia: The Way Forward” at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.
These disputes, which spawn religious fundamentalism, need to be resolved for socio-economic development of both countries, said Musharraf, who didn’t mention 26/11 attack even once in his long speech.
Alluding to his four-point formula for resolving the Kashmir issue, that has seemingly been put in cold storage by his successor civilian administration, Musharraf stressed that this roadmap was still the best way forward. The formula included, among other things, gradual demilitarisation along the Line of Control (LoC), giving maximum self-governance to the two halves of Kashmir, making LoC irrelevant by opening as many routes along the border as possible.
Musharraf said he had proposed this formula to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he was in power, and added that there was “some progress” on it. He said the two sides were working on a draft agreement for 15-20 years, but admitted there were “some hitches”.
His formula included gradual demilitarisation along the Line of Control, maximum self governance to the two halves of Kashmir, making LoC irrelevant by opening as many routes along the border as possible and working on an over-watch mechanism.
“With Vajpayee sahab, it was not a resolution of the dispute. It was a joint resolution that we were drafting accepting the realities of the disputes between India and Pakistan including Kashmir.
“There were two or three sentences on Kashmir that this is the key factor which… between the two countries and we must solve them. It was clearly stated in the joint declarations. The joint statement was not issued unfortunately,” he said.
Musharraf added he and Singh were trying to draft an agreement. “But certainly, the draft was not complete. And these were hitches… but on the general plain, I would say there was wide agreement”.
He said the agreement was supposed to be for 15 or 20 years. “To be tried out and then readjusted after that final tuning of whatever has gone right or wrong…So, I think that is the way forward,” he said noting that no one he has ever spoken to, both in Kashmir and other places, have been able to give a solution to the Kashmir issue.
Later, speaking to reporters, Musharraf said he had invited Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan in 2007 and sign some agreements, but he didn’t come.
However, Musharraf stressed that he did not “feel let down” by Manmohan Singh as he had “the highest esteem for him”.
“We were moving forward. There was a sincerity on both sides. In 2007, he was supposed to come to Pakistan. I told him that coming to Pakistan would be meaningless if no agreement was signed. But he did not come,” he said.
Calling the resolution of disputes over Siachen and Sir Creek doable, Musharraf said had he came the two sides could have done deals on these issues.
Stressing that he was not speaking for the government of Pakistan, he pitched for greater flow of people and trade between the two countries to create enduring peace.
To create the right atmosphere, Musharraf said intelligence agencies of both countries should stay away from damaging activities.
In a statesman-like manner, Musharraf, who is better known in India as the architect of the Kargil misadventure, said peace was possible between the two countries if both displayed the right “niyat”, a word he used at least a dozen times during his lecture and a separate interaction with the media.
“Compromise should come from the bigger party. India should have a big heart because it is the bigger country. When the smaller party makes the compromise, it can have negative connotations,” he said. Let India take the lead with a clean, large and magnanimous heart, he said.
For creating enduring peace, he outlined three pre-requisites that included a “sincere niyat”, downsizing the roles of bureaucrats and intelligence agencies, since they “find it difficult to break from the past” and a strong leadership.
Musharraf, however, did not regret the Kargil adventure, indicating that it was a retaliation for India’s role in dividing Pakistan in 1971 by creating Bangladesh. It was the same niyat when you went to East Pakistan and Siachen,” he replied when asked what was the niyat behind the 1999 Kargil conflict.
In candid talk, Musharraf said that despite what India may think, some extremist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa and other militant outfits enjoyed tremendous public support in Pakistan.
He, however, treaded cautiously when asked about the anti-India activities of Hafiz Mohammed, suspected by India to be the 26/11 mastermind, saying these activities did not fit into the course of rapprochement and reconciliation the two countries were engaged in.
Against the backdrop of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, Musharraf, however, warned India against trying to create an anti-Islamabad Afghanistan and underlined that both India and Pakistan “should stop proxy war” in the violence-torn country.
“Either Afghanistan goes back to 1989, when the Soviets left and warlords began fighting, or it goes back to 1996, when the Taliban came. If the US leaves a minimum force, then the situation should be maintainable,” he said. AGENCIES
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