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Hope India responds positively to Kashmir proposals: Musharraf

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
January 05, 2006 23:45 IST
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Observing that India and Pakistan have made progress on the implementation of confidence building measures, President Pervez Musharraf Thursday hoped that New Delhi would respond positively to his proposals of self-governance and demilitarisation to facilitate a solution to the Kashmir issue.

During a meeting with a delegation of moderate Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, he observed that the two sides have moved forward on confidence building measures, but called for "substantive progress" on conflict resolution.

Musharraf expressed the hope that India would respond positively to Pakistan's proposals of demilitarisation and self-governance in Kashmir to facilitate a lasting solution to the lingering problem, an official press release said.

"For any solution to Kashmir to be durable, it has to be in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiri people," the release quoted him as telling the delegation, which also comprised of Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Ghani Lone.

Musharraf also reaffirmed Pakistan's "moral, diplomatic and political support to the Kashmiris for a fair settlement" of the problem, it said.

Farooq, who is on a visit to express solidarity with victims of the October 8 earthquake, told reporters after meeting Mushrraf that his group fully supported the Pakistan president's proposals for demilitarisation and self-governance.

The Hurriyat leader said he saw momentum building up on solid basis on these proposals.

"These proposals should be discussed and taken forward formally, beginning with the next round of Pakistan-India dialogue at foreign secretaries' level," Farooq said.

"Let there be a genuine discussion on these ideas. Pakistan has shown flexibility, the Kashmiris are willing to move forward. So India will have to come forward," Farooq was quoted as saying by state-run APP news agency.

Pakistan, while maintaining that it mooted the ideas on self governance and demilitarisation with the Indian leadership, declined to reveal the details saying they would be made public after making progress in talks.

Farooq said a step-by-step approach will have to be adopted for substantive and result-oriented progress on the Kashmir problem.

"These ideas are at an initial stage -- still being discussed, still are developing -- we have to see how we can move forward. We cannot say that everything is finalised. It will take sometime, but I am confident that this is the way forward," he said.

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference, he said, fully supports President Musharraf's proposals in terms of step-by-step approach for a fair settlement and would debate it openly at public level.

"Every Kashmiri aspires for self-governance -- Pakistan and the people of Kashmir have a unanimous position that Kashmiris' aspirations will have to be taken into account for finding a durable solution," he said.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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