Flexibility to resolve Kashmir dispute
* Musharraf says government wants to empower tribesmen
ISLAMABAD: The Kashmir issue can be resolved only if both Pakistan and India moved away from their stated positions, President General Pervez Musharraf said on Saturday.
“Both countries will have to be flexible in order to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute that is acceptable to them as well as Kashmiris,” President Musharraf told the newly-elected members of the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC).
President Musharraf said the resolution of the dispute would bring about peace in the region and benefit all parties economically. President Musharraf, however, said that Pakistan had not given up its principled stand on the Kashmir issue. President Musharraf denied spelling out any solution to the issue, saying he had only asked the media to identify various options and start meaningful debate on them. He said only a solution acceptable to Pakistan, India and the people of Kashmir would work.
President Musharraf reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the development of the tribal areas, saying he had already announced a Rs 500 million package which aimed to empower tribesmen, politically and economically.
President Musharraf asked the NALC members to utilise funds judicially in order to ensure sustained economic growth in the tribal areas. He said the development of the tribal areas would put them on a par with the rest of the country.
He said the Northern Areas were blessed with vast natural resources and had enormous potential for tourism. He said the government would encourage the private sector to invest in tourism in the tribal areas. He said it was vital to improve the country’s image by discouraging extremism and sectarianism, saying it would help promote tourism and improve the economy.
He said against the backdrop of the current geo-political situation, Pakistan needed stability to overcome internal and external challenges.