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Musharraf faces criticism for Kashmir proposal

Thursday 7 December 2006, by SUBRAMANIAN*Nirupama

ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties in Pakistan on Wednesday accused President Pervez Musharraf of a "sell-out" on the Kashmir issue for his statements to an Indian TV channel but analysts said a change in Pakistan’s position on Jammu and Kashmir was always implicit in the oft-reiterated "out of the box" proposals for a solution to the dispute.

In an interview to NDTV, Gen. Musharraf reiterated his solution to the Kashmir issue - making borders irrelevant, demilitarisation, self-governance and joint management - and said Pakistan would give up its claim on the state if India too did the same in the interests of a solution to the issue.

Reacting sharply to the statement, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, head of the Jamaat-e-Islami, said it was against the nation’s "long-standing principled position" on Kashmir. Mr. Ahmed, who is also the leader of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of religious parties, said the Kashmir issue had to be solved in accordance with the U.N. resolutions, which were still valid, and in line with the wishes of the Kashmiris.

Mr. Ahmed accused Gen. Musharraf of "selling" the national interest and said any agreement with India on this issue would be unacceptable and opposed by all.

The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) also lambasted the President. The party information secretary Ahsan Iqbal said Gen. Musharraf could not make a decision on such a vital issue without consulting Parliament, the National Security Council, or the corps commanders of the Pakistan Army.

Any change in Pakistan’s Kashmir position would be tantamount to "wasting the supreme sacrifices made by 80,000 Kashmiris", Mr Iqbal said. In Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the ruling Azad Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference and Hurriyat Conference (Ansari group) welcomed Gen. Musharraf’s proposal, hoping these would help promote a resolution of the issue. But nationalist Kahmiri organisations, including Amanullah Khan of the National Liberation Front regretted that Gen. Musharraf has ruled out the emergence of an independent Kashmir.

The Nation newspaper also blasted the President for ignoring the aspirations of Kashmiris and Pakistanis. Analysts said a change in Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir was always understood in Gen. Musharraf’s oft-expressed four-point proposal for the resolution of the issue, most recently in an interview to Frontline and also laid out clearly in his book "In the Line of Fire".

But they said this was the first time he was expressing the implied change in such a direct and blunt way.

See online : The Hindu

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