Zardari criticised for calling Kashmir militants ‘terrorists’

October 6th, 2008 - 1:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Pervez MusharrafIslamabad, Oct 6 (IANS) Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chairman of Pakistan’s parliamentary committee on Kashmir and president of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, has criticised President Asif Ali Zardari for terming militants operating in Kashmir as “terrorists” and for saying that India has never been a threat to Pakistan.”Zardari is our president but he is inexperienced and needs to know the right choice of words,” Rehman told reporters here.

In an interview with Wall Street Journal (WSJ) columnist Bret Stephens, Zardari said the militants in Kashmir were “terrorists”, though previous regimes in Pakistan called them freedom fighters. He added that India had never been a threat to his country.

“I believe Zardari’s statement that India was never a threat to Pakistan is to have better future relations with the neighbouring country,” said Rehman.

In his last press conference, former president Pervez Musharraf had termed the militants as “freedom fighters”, saying that Pakistan will continue “moral and diplomatic” support to their cause.

The WSJ quoted Zardari as saying: “I, for one, and our democratic government is not scared of Indian influence abroad.”

Zardari also said that he has no objection to the India-US nuclear cooperation pact, so long as Pakistan is treated “at par”.

“Why would we begrudge the largest democracy in the world getting friendly with one of the oldest democracies in the world?”

He noted that “there is no other economic survival for nations like us. We have to trade with our neighbours first”.

Rehman, who is part of the coalition government in the centre, said he will demand that Zardari change the words he used for the Kashmiri militants.

“I am confident that the president will rephrase his words,” he said.

Rehman said that Pakistan considers Kashmir a disputed territory and “Pakistanis have always respected the freedom struggle of their Kashmiri brothers”.

Zardari’s wife and former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto was accused of removing “Kashmir House” boards from the federal capital when former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Pakistan.

Rehman, who was in opposition then, had stated that Bhutto did so to appease the Indian leader.

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