Indian reluctance made me go public with Kashmir ideas: Musharraf
* President says all proposals made to Indian leadership first via secret channels
* Indian establishment hampering peace process
LAHORE: President General Pervez Musharraf has said he communicated his ideas on self-governance and demilitarisation in Kashmir to the Indian leadership long ago, but their reluctance to respond compelled him to go public.
“I have been passing these ideas on to the Indian government, to the Indian leadership directly and indirectly, through back channels, though all kinds of channels,” Gen Musharraf said in an interview on Indian channel CNN-IBN.
“We have given these ideas … I would like the confidentiality to remain but my disappointment is that months and years are passing and we are not moving ahead. When is the time when we come out in the open?”
Asked if the comments made by Indian officials that the ideas of self-governance and demilitarisation were not being discussed through back channels were wrong, he said: “Absolutely, 400 percent wrong.”
Gen Musharraf said India’s lack of response to the proposals had made him think New Delhi was deliberately trying to block progress in the peace process.
“My disappointment is, and my suspicion, that when you carry on thinking that this should not be opened up, and they should be kept secret … nothing moves forward. So my view has always been let’s come out in the open so that the public debate can be initiated on these subjects so that we take people along,” he said.
The president said the thinking that he was making these ideas public was to appeal to a Western gallery was being used as an excuse by India to not move the peace process forward. He said he had directly discussed the ideas of “joint management” of Kashmir and demilitarisation of the three Kashmiri cities of Baramullah, Kapwara and Srinagar directly with the Indian leadership.
“I have given (these proposals) to the Indian leaders. I have done this through the back channels. All of them, in detail. Some even written. But there is no response … no counter-proposal. That disappoints me. And I think we reached a stage where we have to come out in the open. And, therefore, I am doing this. Let it be in the open. Let the people of India and let the people of Pakistan debate it. Because I think the leadership doesn’t want to debate it in the open.”
Gen Musharraf said he trusted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but suggested that organisations within the Indian establishment were influencing the course of the peace process. During discussions about possible solutions to the Kashmir problem, Gen Musharraf said the Northern Areas in Pakistan could be considered in the final settlement as well. He said he would be happy to introduce the same self-governance he was suggesting for Indian-held Kashmir in Azad Kashmir as well. He said the details of what self-governance constitutes would have to be worked out by India, Pakistan and Kashmiris, but it would be somewhere between autonomy and independence. He dismissed the notion that domestic problems in Waziristan and Balochistan had weakened his position and made him less able to deliver on promises made in the peace process.