Let’s move beyond burden of history, resolve Kashmir: Musharraf (Lead)

March 8th, 2009 - 12:05 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 7 (IANS) Making a pitch for lasting peace between India and Pakistan, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf Saturday asked the leadership of the two countries “to overcome the burden of history” by grasping the “fleeting opportunity” to resolve key disputes like Kashmir.
Calling for “an attitudinal change” among people and the governments for better relations, he exhorted the two countries to “move beyond the burden of history” and jointly combat common problems like extremism and terrorism.

“We must overcome the burden of history and move forward. The path of peace is the right course to adapt for India, Pakistan, the region and the world,” Musharraf said.

Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan for nine years, was speaking on “Challenge of Change” at a conclave organised here by the India Today news magazine.

“We have to resolve Kashmir. Kashmir remains a key dispute. The resolution of dispute means give and take,” Musharraf said.

“The political leaderships of both countries must grasp the fleeting opportunity and bring peace to the region. These opportunities are not going to be there all the time,” he said.

Linking the festering Kashmir dispute with terorrism, he said: “There is an emotional involvement of Pakistan people with people of Kashmir. Therefore, this has given rise to dozens of freelance mujahideen groups and increasing militancy in Pakistan society.

“It certainly needs to be controlled but the task of controlling these groups is very difficult and dispute resolution is the only permanent solution. We must go for it,” he said. “We have to show the courage to reconcile and compromise.”

“We should also address the core issues of terrorism and extremism together. We have to have a clear and realistic understanding of the root causes of terrorism. Addressing the root causes of terrorism holds the key,” he said.

“We have to adopt a holistic approach to eliminating terrorism and extremism.

“We should have the courage and wisdom to write a new chapter in peace and mutually beneficial cooperation. Pakistan can’t be coerced; they can’t live with coercion. India has to show magnanimity and humility. One can’t be a large country with a small heart,” he said.

“We must stop meddling in each other and we should start back channel.

“I stand for peace, for the sake of the whole world which considers our region a nuclear flashpoint. I stand for peace in the South Asian region where progress and development is tied to harmony between India and Pakistan,” he said.

“I stand for peace for the sake of our future generations to whom we owe a better life and a better environment,” he said.

Pointing to the curse of extremism and terrorism that afflict both countries, Musharraf said he has come to India to prove a point that extremists will not be allowed to create obstacles in the path of peace between the two countries.

“I was advised against coming to India and against the negative reaction of extremists on both sides. I came here to prove a point that extremists must not have their way,” he said.

“We the moderates must stand for the resolution of all disputes and issues between them. We must not allow extremists to create obstacles in the path of peace,” he stressed.

Musharraf’s presidential tenure saw the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 that brought the two countries on the brink of a war. However, the second half of his tenure saw the resumption of the peace process and the launch of new cross-border bus and train links.

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