December 22, 2012 11:24 pm

Nawaz Sharief: Musharraf Scuttled Kashmir Breakthrough With Kargil

Asks Hurriyat Leaders To Visit Pakistan Oftener

SRINAGAR: The Hurriyat (M) on Saturday wrapped up its Pakistan visit with a significant press conference in Lahore with former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharief, the chief of the main opposition party, who stressed on resolving the Kashmir issue according to the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, and asked the Kashmiri leaders to visit his country often  

Holding the former president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, responsible for derailing the Indo-Pak peace process with the Kargil incursion, the Muslim League (N) president said that the misadventure had scuttled a decisive breakthrough on Kashmir between the two countries.  

 “In our tenure, when the then prime minister of India visited Pakistan, he surprised me by asserting that the subcontinent would celebrate 1999 as the year of resolving all issues including Kashmir,” Shareif said.

“The Lahore Declaration speaks of resolving the question through talks,” he said.

“During my tenure, India and Pakistan had agreed on resolving the Kashmir issue, and the dialogue process had been speeded up, but Gen Pervez Musharraf derailed it,” he said.

“Why did Musharraf need to attack Kargil? Had the dialogue process not been thrown off the track, some results would certainly have emerged,” he said.

“There are three parties to the Kashmir issue, and all the three need to come to the negotiating table,” he said.

To a question on Indo-Pak trade, the former prime minister said that the process should be carried forward as it help both countries improve their economic condition.

“The Muslim League (N) has always believed that for peace and economic development in the subcontinent, the Kashmir issue should be resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people,” he said.

“That is why during my tenure, I had initiated decisive talks with India, but needless intervention by the then army chief at the last minute broke the whole thing up,” he said.

Inviting the Hurriyat (M) leaders to visit Pakistan again, and after elections also, the former prime minister said that such trips should continue.

“This will help resolve issues,” he said.

“You have visited Pakistan after five years, but these long gaps should be avoided now,” he said. Answering questions from the media, the chairman of the Hurriyat (M), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, pressed for taking Kashmiris on board in the talks process, saying that that was imperative for a just and permanent resolution of the Kashmir issue.

“We are not opposed to trade between India and Pakistan, but want that the Kashmir issue should be given primacy and priority because the two countries can’t establish enduring friendship without resolving it,” he said.

“Kashmiris have strong bonds with Pakistan, and resolving the Kashmir will in the interests not only of India and Pakistan but the entire region,” he said.

The Mirwaiz said that human rights violations in Kashmir should be halted, and that Kashmiris should be included in the Indo-Pak talks process as the primary party to the Kashmir issue. 

Earlier before flying to Lahore, the delegation visited the National Defense University at Islamabad in the morning after which they offered Friday prayers at the historical ‘Faisal Masjid’ in the afternoon.

At NDU, Mirwaiz while reiterating his demand for tripartite dialogue, said that Kashmir was not a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and the inclusion of Kashmiris as the basic party of the dispute was inevitable. 

Addressing the Pakistan Army officers and graduates, Mirwaiz said, “Kashmiris have been the worst suffers of the conflict and we demand that India and Pakistan should initiate serious dialogue along with the genuine leadership of Kashmir for the settlement of the dispute.”

He argued that there was a shift in the mode of resistance in Kashmir from 2008, where lakhs of people were coming on the streets with no gun or bombs in their hands, but still they were being fired upon. The address was followed by closed door question answer session that lasted for almost 50 minutes.

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