The resolution of the Kashmir problem in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiris can ensure lasting peace, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has said, even as President Pervez Musharraf insisted that Islamabad was taking a "bilateral approach" to the issue.
Pakistan will "continue to extend moral, social, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri brethren for their just cause of self-determination," Gillani told the President of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Raja Zulqurnain Khan, on Monday.
An official statement quoted Gillani as saying that "the resolution of (the) Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir could ensure lasting peace in the region and bring about much needed progress and prosperity for the people."
He also said that Pakistan "believes in the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue through dialogue" and expressed "confidence that India would also reciprocate positively in this regard."
The statement came on a day when Musharraf said Pakistan is taking a "bilateral approach" to amicably resolve the Kashmir issue for the economic benefit of the people and hoped "good sense" will prevail on both sides.
In his first public comments on Kashmir on Monday after the Gillani-led government assumed office last month, Musharraf chose to sing a different tune with an emphasis on resolving the "festering" issue bilaterally, a departure from its traditional stance for third party mediation.
"The dispute with Kashmir, as far as Pakistan is concerned... may I say very proudly that we going on a bilateral approach with India," Musharraf, who is on a six-day visit to close ally China, had told teachers and students at the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing.
"We hope that good sense prevails on both sides to resolve this long standing dispute amicably between our two countries for the economic benefit of people of these two countries," the president had said.
Gillani also told the PoK leader that former prime minister and Pakistan People's Party founder Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto and his daughter, slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, had raised the Kashmir issue at every forum.
The prime minister said his government will extend all possible support for the rehabilitation of people affected by the 2005 earthquake and for the development of infrastructure in the region.
Khan briefed Gillani "about the sentiments of the people of Kashmir for the support that Pakistan has been extending to the just cause of the Kashmiri people," the statement said.