The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Pakistan sings a ‘new’ tune on Kashmir

Islamabad, Dec. 11: Pakistan today said it would agree to a solution on Kashmir acceptable to all stakeholders, a sign that it was moving away from its long-standing policy of resolving the conflict only within the parameters of UN resolutions.

“We will negotiate a solution of the dispute, which is acceptable to India, Pakistan and Kashmiris… and that will be (our) new position,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam told reporters.

Asked what she meant by “new position”, she said it would be anything that is accepted by the three parties.

Aslam, however, clarified that Pakistan had not changed its policy on Kashmir and said her country had only been calling for a flexible approach.

According to Aslam, Pakistan has, in the past 60 years, never claimed Kashmir was its “integral part”. But, she added, Pakistan hopes the people of Kashmir will opt for it while deciding on their future.

The remarks come almost a week after President Pervez Musharraf reportedly said his country would give up the plebiscite demand for Kashmir if talks with India made “tangible progress”.

Pakistan clearly wants progress by the time Manmohan Singh visits Islamabad. If Musharraf is to rein in the militant line on Kashmir — it is also the popular Pakistani line — he needs an acceptable formula for progress. Musharraf’s four-point proposal during an interview to an Indian TV channel was the first step in that direction.

The President had suggested self-governance and joint management in the region besides free movement and staggered withdrawal of troops.

But Aslam denied that Musharraf had floated an idea contrary to Pakistan’s principled position. “The President only called for flexibility on both the countries’ sides for a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute,” she said.

She replied in the negative when asked if Islamabad had got any feedback from Delhi on its previous proposals and on Musharraf’s interview. “What I can tell you is that the Kashmir dispute remains under discussion… as part of the ongoing composite dialogue.”

Email This Page