//Row over Musharraf Kashmir plan

Row over Musharraf Kashmir plan

BBC > South Asia — 8 January 2006 // Pakistan’s call for some cities in Indian-administered Kashmir to be demilitarised has won some support in the region but disapproval from Delhi. // Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf called in a TV interview for an Indian army pullout of three cities to help find a solution for the divided region

A key pro-India leader in the region, Mehbooba Mufti, said she hoped that some troops could be pulled back. But Delhi said its army movements would not be dictated by a foreign country. Gen Musharraf said in his interview on Saturday that India should demilitarise the cities of Srinagar, Kupwara and Baramullah in the Kashmir valley to take the peace process forward. Ms Mufti, the president of the governing People’s Democratic Party in Indian-administered Kashmir, said she hoped the Indian government would agree to pull back some of the troops.

"It is time that India pulled back its troops from internal security operations in Kashmir," she said. She said the situation had improved to the extent that Delhi could assign internal security to the local police India’s external affairs ministry spokesman, Navtej Sarna, said on Saturday: "Any demilitarisation or redeployment of security forces within the territory of India is a sovereign decision of the government of India and cannot be dictated by any foreign government." Senior separatist leader in Indian-controlled Kashmir, Shabir Shah, condemned the Indian government’s rejection. He said the government’s argument that troops were needed to fight militants was baseless.

In his interview, Gen Musharraf also extended an invitation to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit a cricket match in India’s current tour of Pakistan. Delhi has made no formal reply but Mr Sarna told reporters on Sunday: "There are no plans for the prime minister to visit Pakistan for any of the cricket matches." Cricket diplomacy has been seen as a key motor for the nations’ two-year peace process. President Musharraf visited Delhi last year to watch a one-day match. Both nations claim Kashmir in its entirety and it has been the cause of two of the countries’ three wars since independence.