NEW DELHI, Dec 5: President Pervez Musharraf has reiterated his willingness to withdraw the Kashmir dispute from the UN Security Council if talks with India over the dispute show tangible progress.
In an interview to NDTV, he offered a four-stage interim solution, but warned: "My view is that it is easier said than done. I mean it's not as simple as put in across four stages or four aspects of it. This could be left for trial for five years, 10 years, 15 years and then we can get together again to see its efficacy, if it is functional, well. If there are some modifications required, again."
On Tuesday India responded cautiously to the far-reaching ideas on
Kashmir but appeared to agree with a crucial proposal for the softening of the Line of Control.
"We cannot redraw the map but we can make borders irrelevant," junior foreign minister Anand Sharma said, quoting remarks made some months ago by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "I think that remains India's position," Mr Sharma said.
"India does not want this region to remain in conflict. We want people of Pakistan and India and this region to enjoy fruits of economic development which can only come when conflict and distrust are removed," Mr Sharma was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying.
The issue also figured in the talks between a delegation of MQM parliamentarians and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday. Dr Farooq Sattar, leader of the MQM's parliamentary party in the National Assembly, urged New Delhi to make a considered appreciation of Gen Musharraf's proposals.
Mr Mukherjee did not respond directly to it but said India and Pakistan ought to learn from Europe which had fought wars for 300 years but was now a powerful and peaceful economic bloc.
There were no surprises seen in Gen Musharraf's interview to NDTV excerpts of which were shown on Tuesday. The ideas tallied closely with what the president had told Indian writer A.G. Noorani in August. Those comments were published in the Frontline magazine and are currently believed to be part of back channel discussions.
NDTV, however, claimed that it was the first time that Pakistan showed that it was prepared to give up its claim on Kashmir if India accepts a four-point proposal for resolving the dispute. "This is being seen as a possible major breakthrough on the Kashmir problem," NDTV said.
Explaining what he had meant in August, Gen Musharraf said: "We are at the moment, both India and Pakistan, on the same position as we were since 1948. But we both, I am saying, we both ought to be prepared to give up all that we have been saying. And this includes all this. If we reach an agreement where we are giving self-governance, yes indeed, that is it."
Asked if that meant he was then prepared to give up his claim to Kashmir, Gen Musharraf said: "We will have to, yes, if this solution comes up."
According to NDTV, Gen Musharraf's four stages involve the following: i) Kashmir will have the same borders but people will be allowed to move freely back and forth in the region; ii) the region will have self-governance or autonomy, but not independence; iii) troops will be withdrawn from the region in a staggered manner; and iv) a joint supervision mechanism will be set up, with India, Pakistan and Kashmir represented on it.
Reacting to Gen Musharraf's comment, former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu said Pakistan had to stop terrorist attacks on India before any progress could be made on other issues.
Senior defence analyst Uday Bhasker said Gen Musharraf's statement on dropping Pakistan's insistence on independence for Kashmir was a signal to voices of `azaadi’ that Pakistan no longer supports that view.
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