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No change in India's stand on Kashmir

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
December 05, 2006 14:49 IST
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Reacting to Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf's statement that Pakistan would not press for its right over Kashmir in case his four-point formula is accepted, Anand Sharma, minister of state for external affairs, said that there is no change in the Indian stand spelt out by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the boundaries cannot be changed.
Sharma said that the government of India can give its reaction only if the proposal is sent in writing. "This is a serious issue and we cannot make statements before the media," he said when pressed for his comments. 

"Although Dr Singh has said the boundaries cannot be changed, they can be made irrelevant by facilitating the movement of the people across the Line of Control. When Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mohammed Kasuri was in Delhi on a private visit, he met External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The two would be meeting soon and this matter can be addressed then. We want to resolve the conflict and restore peace," he pointed out.
Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People's Democatic Party, welcomed Musharraf's statement and said the time has come to catch the bull by the horns. "It is a welcome statement because it would empower the people of Kashmir on either side. So far, Pakistan has been encouraging terrorism and now if it wants to assist in development, we should welcome it," she told on Tuesday.
She described Musharraf's proposal as dil ki awaaj (a statement from the heart) and said that Kashmir, which has been eating into the vitals of the country, needed peace. "The proposal is worded differently. While Dr Singh wants to make the border irrelevant by facilitating trans-border movement, Musharraf talks about the self rule. While autonomy to the state involves a relationship between Centre and the state, which seeks more power, self rule means empowerment of the people," she said.
The people of Jammu and Kashmir are now in a reconciliatory mood and we should seize the opportunity, Mufti said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi