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Musharraf seeks shield against Big Brother

Islamabad, Sept. 19: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today criticised India’s “extraordinary doctrine of bilateralism” and called for multilateral or Saarc-based initiatives to resolve disputes between India and its neighbours.

India’s “extraordinary bilateralism” seeks to bind its neighbours to a one-to-one relationship with New Delhi and to the resolution of differences exclusively through bilateral negotiations, Musharraf said. India unabashedly leverages its superiority in size and strength over its smaller neighbours through this high-sounding and ostensibly reasonable mechanism, he added.

India has unresolved bilateral differences with practically all its neighbours, Musharraf said. “Its desire to mould the South Asian international relations to suit its own great power ambitions has all along served to vitiate the security environment in the region,” he added.

He said while issues of peace and security concerned all the South Asian states, “it cannot be denied that normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India is a pre-requisite to the realisation of the vision of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia.”

Musharraf, who was addressing the inauguration of the two-day international conference on Peace and Security in South Asia here, made it amply clear that the “key to normalisation of relations between Pakistan and India lies in progress towards a resolution of the core Kashmir issue. A principled resolution of the dispute, that takes into account the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, will unlock the door to normalisation”.

Musharraf said the massing of Indian troops along Pakistan’s border entailed grave security risks for the region and warned against applying the “doctrine of pre-emption” in the context of the two South Asian nuclear rivals. “Deployment of Indian forces in forward and strike locations against Pakistan entails a grave security risk for the entire region,” he said.

“Brinkmanship and sabre-rattling will not solve any problem,” Musharraf said and stressed the need to sit across the table to thrash out differences. “This is also the position of the rest of the world.” Pakistan made major commitments and has taken significant steps to ease the current tension, he said. “In doing so, we have not flinched from taking considerable risks.”

But there will be no more concessions from Pakistan and India’s continued intransigence in hopes of getting further concession from Pakistan was “highly misplaced”, the President said. “India must take substantive steps if it is serious in its declared intention of walking the high road to peace,” he added.

Musharraf said the “doctrine of pre-emption” could be applied between unequal opponents and adversaries, which would attract international diplomatic condemnation. But in the case of equal adversaries and opponents, he warned that application of this doctrine would lead to war.

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