[news] Powell wants Kashmir on table

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2002 20:25:28 -0000

WASHINGTON, Feb 15: Reiterating America's wish that Pakistan and India
should enter into a dialogue to solve bilateral issues, Secretary of
State Colin Powell said on Thursday that Kashmir would have to be "on
the table" in any negotiations. 

Answering questions on an MTV talk-in show on the day President Pervez
Musharraf concluded a three-day visit to Washington, Mr Powell said he
had talked to Pakistani leader on Wednesday and to Indian Foreign
Minister Jaswant Singh on Thursday, and discussed with both of them a
way out of the existing crisis where forces from the two countries faced
each other on their border. 

Mr Powell also said the US had quite candidly told President Musharraf
that in due course of time the general would have to stand for elections
and it would be closely watching the military government's roadmap for a
return to democratic governance in Pakistan. 

On Kashmir, the secretary said, it had been "a difficult problem for 50
years. We now see a situation where India and Pakistan have forces in
close proximity to one another. We have been deeply involved in making
sure that this crisis situation does not explode into war between two
nuclear-armed nations. And the loss of life that could come about from
such a conflict not only dwarfs what happened in New York City and
Washington, it dwarfs what's happened in Kashmir over the last 50 years.

"We also have been in touch with both sides to say, let's find a way,
diplomatically and politically, out of this crisis situation with the
two forces so close to one another, and once we have found a way out of
this, then the United States wants to help the two sides enter a
dialogue with each other, a dialogue where they can put all of the
problems that exist between the two nations on a table, and where others
can assist them in this dialogue. 

"And as I said to President Musharraf yesterday when I met him, and as I
also said when I spoke to Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh of India this
morning, all issues have to be on the table, to include Kashmir.... and
so we are doing everything we can to defuse this situation, and to find
a way forward so that we can bring peace to Kashmir in a way that both
countries can accept, in a way that brings hope to the Kashmiri people,
just as we have brought hope to the people of Afghanistan. And we have
indicated to both India and Pakistan we will remain engaged to try to
deescalate the situation and get a dialogue going." 

Asked by a questioner from India how was it that the US was seen as
being "hand-in-glove" with a military dictator like Gen Pervez
Musharraf, Secretary Powell referred to the Pakistani president's speech
of Jan 12 which had put Pakistan on a "new course". 

"I think he has made it clear that there will be elections later this
year for his legislature, and he has even expanded those election
procedures so that you will not be penalised if you are a member of one
particular ethnic group. So I think he is taking his country in a new

"We want to have good relations, both with Pakistan and with India. And
I think the fact that we have come so far with Pakistan in just five
months time is indicative of how much more we can do in the months
ahead, working with President Musharraf to make sure that Pakistan
becomes what he says he wants it to become, a secular nation that
believes in the same universal human values that all of us believe in." 
Source:  The Dawn 


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