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Kashmir is lifeline of Pakistan: Jamali

Friday 4 July 2003

Article paru dans le Times of India, ?dition du 4 juillet 2003.

LONDON: Kashmir was the "lifeline" of Pakistan and it would not compromise on it, Pakistani Premier Zafarullah Khan Jamali said on Friday.

"As far as I am concerned, Kashmir is the lifeline. It’s not just a political issue; it’s an economic issue too. It’s lifeline as far as Pakistan is concerned and we have to keep that right in front of us and then decide," Jamali told the BBC World, in its programme Question Time Pakistan.

Stating that he would not compromise on principles, Jamali said "I am a person who does not compromise on principles. Issues, we can compromise on... The major principle between India and Pakistan is Kashmir. That is the principle. On principle, you cannot compromise. On issues, you can." He, however, did not elaborate.

According to a press release by BBC World, the programme is being telecast on Friday night.

Expressing his wish to improve relations with India, Jamali said "We have to improve. Why should I have a hostile neighbour? A country that is stronger than us, a country that is bigger than us. These are the facts and we have to admit that."

Replying to a question on New Delhi’s claim that Pakistan was not stopping "cross-border infiltration", Jamali said: "They’ve been saying it for years and years. Pakistan has vast borders and with all the military might India has put on those borders, even then they are saying that we are still crossing over. Doesn’t make sense at all," he claimed.

At times, Jamali claimed such instances happened without any connivance as far as Pakistan was concerned.

"We have said very openly that we do not have training camps, we do not send people across, we have nothing to do with the whole structure, but the moral help has been there with the Kashmiris. They have suffered a lot... India is very far ahead as far as the media is concerned so it tries to convince people they try to depict their point of view, which we have not been able to cover. We shall try to do that," he added.

Answering a question on who he would prefer to deal with - Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani - in the event of a summit, the Pakistan Prime Minister said: "I don’t find any difficulty. Vajpayee - I respect him - the dialogue we had, he’s very reasonable man, a very amiable man. I think we can come to a certain conclusion."

"Advani also I don’t find any difficulty - he speaks Sindhi - I speak fluent Sindhi, so we can communicate in Sindhi. But (it all) depends who represents India," he said.

Asked who he thought India would like to deal with in a summit with Pakistan - choice between him and President Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistan Prime Minister said "I think, probably, they might prefer a civilian prime minister to talk to."

On who ruled Pakistan after the return of the parliamentary form of democracy, President Musharraf or the Prime Minister, Jamali said: "After the elections since November 23, 2003, I think educated people ought to know who is commanding the ship. It’s a democratic set up and in a democratic set up it’s a Prime Minister who carries the weight."

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