Musharraf: Pakistan against independence of Kashmir

MUMBAI : In a landmark interview on NDTV Pak President Pervez Mushrraf has for the first time said that Pakistan is prepared to give up its claim to Kashmir if India and Pakistan agree on the 'four-point solution'

(a solution in which boundaries are not changed and India does not have to give up any territory).

Musharraf, when asked by NDTV's Dr Pronnoy Roy, "so you are prepared to give up your claim to Kashmir"? replied: "We will have to ? Yes ? if this solution comes up". The excerpts of the interview will be telecast on News on Tuesday night, an NDTV press statement said.

Musharraf also says that Pakistan would give up its demand for a plebiscite in the region and give up on the UN resolutions, under this solution. He added that that self-governance or autonomy is not independence -saying that Pakistan is against independence for Kashmir.

It may be remembered that last year, Musharraf had hinted that the solution to the Kashmir problem could be possible "within Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and my tenures", and the latest startling statement on NDTV seems to be a well-planned one, following a calculated roadmap.

When Roy repeated his question: "You are letting them self govern and you have no claim on Kashmir" ... Musharraf retorted: "Why are you going on ... I have said, at the moment, both India and Pakistan ... We are on the same position as we were since 1948. But we both ... I am saying ? we both ought to be prepared to give up all that we have been saying. And this includes all this ... If we reach an agreement where we are giving self governance, yes indeed?"

In the interview President Musharraf also makes it clear that if the four-point solution (no change in boundaries of Kashmir; borders and the LoC to be made irrelevant; staggered demilitarisation; and autonomy or self-governance with a joint supervision mechanism) is agreed upon ? Pakistan would also give up on the UN resolutions and its long-standing demand for a plebiscite.

Roy further asked, "One thing in your solution... I will just be very clear so that the people of India can know this clearly. You are being, in a way, extremely bold, because it means that you are giving up plebiscite and giving up the UN resolution?"

The wily general replied "One is giving up that clearly and I say, yes am giving up...There is a provision in that. One is prepared to give up, in case India leaves its stated position also..."

The Pakistani President also said: "I believe when you are negotiating and you go for peace, it means what? It means compromise ... otherwise you can't... go for a solution of a problem ... What do you mean by compromise? Compromise can never take place if you don't step back. Compromise inherently means stepping back by both sides. So inherently, both sides have to give up their positions ... and step back. If one of us is not prepared to step back, we will not reach a solution."

Musharraf also made it clear that once Pakistan gives up its claim to Kashmir, this four-point solution would not be a negotiating step towards getting independence for Kashmir and that self-governance or autonomy is not the first step to Kashmir's independence.

Roy asked: "Are you then saying, No independence for Kashmir?" and the general said: "Absolutely, we are against independence? and so is India."

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