//Time ripe for resolution on Kashmir: Musharraf

Time ripe for resolution on Kashmir: Musharraf

Islamabad, Feb. 14 (UNI): Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf on Monday said, the time in Jammu and Kashmir is ripe for a resolution, providing a chance to Islamabad and New Delhi to seize the opportunity for addressing the longstanding issue.

"Kashmir is absolutely ripe for a resolution ­ people of both the countries want peace ­ Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control desire peace, while the last year’s earthquake brought them closer – what more is required at this moment," he said. Speaking to a 14 member delegation of American and Pakistani Fellows of East West Centre here on Monday evening, the President reiterated that until the two countries resolved Kashmir, we will not be able to have peace in the region."

"Kashmir has been at the heart of conflict in South Asia, which became a nuclear flashpoint a few years back – it was an extremely dangerous situation, closest to a nuclear holocaust since World War II – now we are trying to resolve our disputes – the leadership of the two countries has developed an understanding, the countries must address the lingering dispute now," he said.In this context, Musharraf reiterated that both countries will have to step back from their stated positions.

"But Pakistan," he added, "will not move back from its stated stance unilaterally and said the two countries cannot go on indefinitely on confidence-building measures and must move forward on dispute resolution for long-term peace and development of the region." "We are prepared to move forward if India also does the same," the President said.

On addressing terrorism and extremism, the President re-affirmed his country’s commitment to combating both and called upon the international community to address the two menaces in a broader perspective. "Terrorism has to be fought militarily ­ but extremism cannot be fought militarily ­ because it is a state of mind – it has to be addressed through a separate strategy altogether and bring people to moderation," Musharraf stressed. He hoped that US President George Bush, who is to visit Pakistan next month, would understand these realities and play a facilitating role in resolving the Kashmir issue.

Musharraf said, while the two countries were engaged in a bilateral process to address the Kashmir issue, the world’s concern for the two countries to move ahead in their peace process was in no way violating the bilateralism.

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"They (the world) are not mediating, they are facilitating, forcing both sides to resolve the dispute and this is not a violation of the bilateralism," he added.

On Pak-US ties, the President said his country was looking for a long-term and broad-based relationship with the United States.

"Pakistan is looking for more trade and not aid as trade is means to investment and job creation," he said.