Pakistan and India can reach solution through courage
* Musharraf says Osama hiding near Afghan border
* AQ Khan a hero who saved Pakistan from extinction
* NZ PM to visit Pakistan
AUCKLAND: Pakistan and India can overcome obstacles to a solution of the Kashmir dispute if they are brave and determined, President General Pervez Musharraf said here on Saturday.
“I see light at the end of the tunnel because I think there is desire on both sides to address the issue,” the president said in an address to the Pakistani community in New Zealand. :We are moving in this direction; both sides will have to show sincerity, flexibility and courage for final settlement of the dispute.” He felt that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had the desire and courage to address the issue. “The two sides can overcome obstacles with courage and determination.”
“The people of the two countries have overtaken the leadership in their desire for peace,” he said, adding that peace can help economic and trade cooperation in South Asia to the benefit of all nations.
He said the leadership of the two countries had a critical responsibility to grasp the peace opportunity. “Otherwise, future generations will not forgive us,” he said.
The president reiterated Islamabad’s commitment to eliminating extremism and terrorism. “We will crush and eliminate terrorism with force; we will not allow any terrorist to pursue his agenda on the Pakistani soil,” he said.
He also spoke about Pakistan’s efforts to tackle extremists, rapid economic growth over the last few years, and increased spending on education and development.
In response to demands raised by the expatriate Pakistanis, President Musharraf agreed with the proposal of having a Jinnah House in Auckland. Gen Musharraf said in a television interview that Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden is probably hiding somewhere in mountainous Pak-Afghan border. “Probably, yes. Most likely that is the case, that he is somewhere around the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
Most of the interview was about circumstances in Pakistan. “We have opened the media, it is absolutely and totally free,” he said. “There are no restrictions, there are more than a dozen TV channels operating - as free as your media.”
Gen Musharraf said that when he seized power in October 1999 Pakistan’s democracy had been dysfunctional. “My consideration was, pure and simple, the national interest,” he said. “The people of Pakistan see that the nation is on the rise at the moment, it is progressing, its economy is dynamic. All the social indicators are positive. The people realise that whatever policies we are following are in the national interest.” The New Zealand Herald reported Gen Musharraf as saying that Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was pardoned because he had provided security to Pakistan when it was facing “extinction”. This was why Dr AQ Khan was still a national hero despite being charged with proliferation.
“He gave us security when we were threatened with extinction ... That is why he is a hero. But the world doesn’t understand this,” the paper quoted him as saying. “If New Zealand was threatened with nuclear extinction you would do anything to save yourself. So Pakistan will do anything to save itself.”
Gen Musharraf and Prime Minister Helen Clark continued informal discussions here on Saturday, with the New Zealand leader accepting an invitation to visit Pakistan in the near future.
New Zealand’s opposition leader Dr Don Brash called on President General Pervez Musharraf in Auckland and exchanged views with him on democracy and the working of democratic institutions. agencies