|Saturday, 28 June 2003|
Musharraf renews call for Mideast-style Kashmir peace
WASHINGTON, Friday (AFP)-Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf on Thursday renewed his push for a Mideast-style peace roadmap on Kashmir, despite India's categorical rejection of the idea.
Musharraf outlined his four-point plan designed to bring the bitter rivals sufficiently close to make major concessions needed for a permanent solution to their fued over the divided Himalayan region in talks with US members of Congress.
Two days after a summit with President George W. Bush, Musharraf warned that an immediate search for solutions to the conflict would fail, as they would be rejected by extremists on both sides.
"Don't talk of solutions," Musharraf told reporters after meeting members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
"If you talk of solutions now, you will not make any progress. Therefore go step by step, cross the bridge when you come to the bridge, and that is hit for a solution when you reach a stage where the solution is possible."
Musharraf said in an interview with ABC television this week that Pakistan wanted a Middle East style "roadmap" for the Kashmir dispute, which would require the presence of an outside mediator.
"Unless there is external influence, whether you call it mediation or facilitation ... they (the Indians) don't want to talk about it," Musharraf said in the interview.
But India on Thursday quickly shot down the idea as Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, on an official visit to China, told NDTV television that New Delhi could never agree to outside involvement to resolve the half-century-old dispute.
"We have repeatedly said there is no third party role in the bilateral dialogue. There is no question of three at the table," Sinha said. "Our view on this issue has been very clearly enunciated."
India and Pakistan have recently adopted a raft of confidence-building measures including a planned exchange of diplomats and resumption of transport links to ease the way to dialogue.
He said his four point plan would start with the two sides deciding to talk to one another.
Stage two would see both sides accept the centrality of the Kashmir dispute to their soured relations. He said stage four would be the "elimination process of eliminating whatever is unacceptable to India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir," without further elaborating.
Stage Four would involve "trying to think of a solution which is genuine for India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir."
Produced by Lake House