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'Pak extremists dislike my peace efforts with India'

By Suman Guha Mozumder in New York
September 21, 2006 11:54 IST
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In a rare and candid admission Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday that there are extremists in Pakistan who would not like his efforts to build a peaceful relation with India.

"There are extremists on both sides of the border -- there are extremists in Pakistan who would not be happy with whatever I am doing with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and so on your side," Musharraf said in response to a question during a press conference at the United Nations.

The general is attending the 61st United Nations General Assembly session.

Reiterating that his meeting with Dr Singh in Havana last week on the sidelines of the Non Aligned Movement summit was positive, Musharraf said both he and Dr Singh have agreed that they need to narrow down divergences and strengthen the convergences.

Describing the resolve as a very positive step forward, he said there was need for strong support for this position.

"Both of us are in difficult situations. I urge the media to be positive and help me and Prime Minister Singh out in reaching peace for the sake of people in both countries," Musharraf said.

Unlike the past, when the Pakistan president would utilise the annual press conference at the UN to do some India bashing, mainly on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, Musharraf sounded somewhat mellow.

Instead of criticising India, he said that the Kashmir issue could be resolved, given the right amount of goodwill.

In response to a question as to what gave him hope that the differences between India and Pakistan will be resolved as he indicated in his address to the general assembly on Tuesday, Musharraf said there are several factors that made him optimistic.

"Most of all, it is the desire of the people of the two countries to have peace. Besides, the international environment is conducive to resolving the issue and, lastly, the leadership of both countries is also committed and sincere in reaching an agreement," Musharraf said.

"There are good ideas, which should be crystalised. We need to move in a steady manner to resolve the issue," he added.

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Suman Guha Mozumder in New York