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Pervez sounds PoK group on alternative

Islamabad, Dec. 22: General Pervez Musharraf today met several Kashmiri leaders to allay their fears of a compromise on the status of the region.

Officials said he discussed “a set of alternative proposals on issues like plebiscite and implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir”. The President also assured them of Pakistan’s continued support for their cause.

“The UN resolutions provide a comprehensive framework for resolution of the Kashmir dispute and nothing can be a substitute for them,” Musharraf told Kashmiri leadership at a Rawalpindi garrison.

Maj. Gen. (Retd) Sardar Muhammad Anwar, president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, prime minister Sikander Hayat Khan, and top Kashmiri leaders, including Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, were present.

Last Thursday, Musharraf had said Pakistan was ready to set aside a 50-year-old demand for a UN-mandated plebiscite in Kashmir and meet India “half-way” in a bid for peace. The offer was contrary to Pakistan’s stand of seeking a settlement based on UN resolutions.

India has been offering talks under the 1972 Simla agreement and the 1999 Lahore pact. But Islamabad has rejected the offers, saying the accords touched on all contentious issues, but failed to provide a framework to resolve the Kashmir question.

However, Musharraf today told the leaders: “I assure you that Pakistan will continue to adhere to the UN resolutions in order to promote a solution acceptable to the people of Kashmir.”

Sultan Mehmud, a former leader, said: “President Musharraf’s recent announcement had caused a great deal of concern among the Kashmiris but today’s briefing removed our fears and we are leaving satisfied.”

He said Kashmiri leaders had urged Musharraf to reach a national consensus on Kashmir so that he has the mandate of the people during talks with India. But Mehmud parried the query about Musharraf’s Thursday proposals, saying his assurances today were more important.

Pakistan information minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed was willing to comment on the proposals. He told Pakistan’s private Geo television that Musharraf’s plans “will prevent the deadlock in implementation of UN resolutions on Kashmir”.

Ahmed added that Musharraf would unveil the proposals only when he feels Pakistan and India are making “a real forward movement” towards resolving the dispute.

Border patrolling

Pakistan defence spokesman General Shaukat Sultan today clarified that the parallel patrolling of borders, agreed by the Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers on Saturday, would be confined to Punjab, reports PTI.

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