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Can’t tango, let’s clap: Pervez

Islamabad, May 20: Pervez Musharraf today said he spies a “fleeting historical moment” that holds the promise of a solution to Kashmir and believes he and Manmohan Singh are best suited to seize it.

“We must grasp this fleeting moment to succeed in our ultimate objective,” the Pakistan President said, recalling what he had told the Prime Minister in New Delhi last month.

“I told Mr Singh that we may be too old to tango but we can at least clap together for a better future because one doesn’t know what is the future of these two incidental leaders,” the President said, referring to the circumstances in which he and the Prime Minister took office.

Musharraf, who was addressing a conference of South Asian lawmakers and journalists, said he did not think a solution to Kashmir could be based on religion.

“We do understand India’s sensitivity over their secular credentials and therefore it cannot be, maybe, on a religious basis. So therefore it needs to be on regional basis, on a people’s basis,” he said. In the past, Musharraf has described the militancy is Kashmir as jihad, or holy war.

Only those who seize the “fleeting moment” succeed, he underlined today.

The President’s optimism appears to rest on the rapport he has developed with Singh. “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and I have complete understanding and harmony on carrying forward the peace process,” Musharraf said, adding that the failure of past agreements lay in the lack of trust and sincerity on both sides. “Harmony that exists between us, maybe it continues with the future leaders also. But why leave anything to doubt'”

A solution has to be found out of India’s stand that borders cannot be redrawn, Pakistan’s stand that the Line of Control cannot be the border and boundaries becoming irrelevant, Musharraf said. “They are conflicting statements. The solution lies somewhere in a compromise of the three. In fact, it lies in the third statement, that is boundaries becoming irrelevant.”

The President proposed self-governance for Kashmiris, withdrawal of troops and softening of borders. Musharraf hoped the next rounds of talks would help in “ironing out some issues which might help us in moving forward on CBMs (confidence-building measures)”. But he warned that the CBMs must move in tandem with progress on Kashmir.

“This is the time for conflict resolution and not conflict management.”

Asked if he had set a time frame, Musharraf said it was difficult to lay it down in months and days. But, he added: “I personally feel it must be done within the tenure or the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and myself. I may be talking big but this is a reality.”

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