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Expect good news on Kashmir soon, Zardari to India

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
September 09, 2008 19:29 IST
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Suggesting that there could be forward movement on resolving the Kashmir issue soon, Pakistan's new President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday said there will be 'some good news' before the general elections in India slated for next year.

"Insha Allah, we will have some good news" on Kashmir before the general elections in India, Zardari said at a joint press conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai after being sworn-in as Pakistan's 12th President.

He said the PPP government will consult all political forces in Pakistan, both inside and outside Parliament, to forge some kind of a strategy to resolve the Kashmir issue.

This will be taken to the Kashmir Committee in Parliament, Zardari said, adding the work done through back-channel diplomacy will also be part of this.

Zardari's maiden press meet after he took over Presidency in the name of his late wife Benazir Bhutto dwelt mainly on Pakistan's problem of rising militancy in North West Frontier Province.

As the threat from Taliban and Al-Qaeda terrorists confronts both Afghanistan and Pakistan on their border, Zardari was joined by his Afghan counterpart Karzai in vowing to jointly fight the 'common' menace.

"It is about fighting this menace in the right manner," Karzai said, adding that he and Zardari were agreed on how the problem should be tackled.

Relations between the two neighbours were strained under Zardari's predecessor Pervez Musharraf but in a goodwill gesture the Afghan President flew in specially to be the only foreign guest at Zardari's swearing-in.

The two countries were also engaged in a war of words over the recent spate of missile strikes by US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan on the Pakistani soil.

"Pakistan intends to work with you, along with you," Zardari told Karzai, adding, "Yes there is a problem but you and I are larger than the problem. We will look the problem in the eye and solve it."

Replying to a volley of questions on whether there was danger of parts of NWFP like Waziristan tribal area and Swat valley ceding away, Zardari emphatically said no part of Pakistan, not even an inch, will be lost to any miscreant.

He also said he wants to work with all countries in the region to bring in peace and prosperity.

Zardari said yesterday's war against terrorism may not have had the backing of the Pakistani people but today's war has the support of the people as well as the President 'who is a victim of terrorism'.

Karzai, without mentioning Pakistan, said all sanctuaries of terrorists must be targeted.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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