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India and Pakistan were close to a Kashmir solution: Musharraf to NDTV

October 9, 2010
London: Speaking exclusively to NDTV’s Group Editor Barkha Dutt, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has said that there is great public support in Pakistan for groups like the Laskhar-e-Toiba, but these groups were not raised during his tenure. 

Here’s the full transcript of the interview:

Barkha: The counter argument of course, and not to get trapped in that India- Pakistan stalemate, but the counter argument of course is that there is terrorism being imported across the Line of Control (LoC). Now, I want to ask you something about what you said this past week in an interview to a German magazine that grabbed Indian eyeballs at least. An admission for the first time of the world’s worst kept secret: that there are underground militant groups, not just trained in camps in Pakistan, but also sent across the LoC as the Pakistan army looks the other way. You have since said that you were misquoted, but many people believe that you actually spoke the truth. You never shied away from speaking the truth. When you were president, you actually tried to reduce infiltration across the LoC and those numbers have come down. So why renege on speaking the truth? Why are you trying to come back from what you said very honestly?

Musharraf: No, I didn’t say that they were. I said certain things which were taken as such. Now first of all saying that I was doing that, first of all that argument has to be killed. Mujahideen groups came into being after the freedom struggle in Kashmir started in 1989, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen are products of 1991…

Barkha: But Lashkar-e-Toiba is not an indigenous Kashmiri group. It’s a terrorist… 

Musharraf: But what I’m trying to prove is, associating me with doing that. I was nothing in 1991; I was a brigadier, so I could not in that interview certainly be saying that I was; my government was doing this. We came into being in 1999-2000. When Lakshar-e-Toiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e- Mohammed… when all this and many others came into being in the 1990s. Now many of them, Hizbul Mujahideen started from Kashmir.

Barkha: What is the Lakshar-e-Toiba as a group for you? For India it’s a terrorist organisation. For you what is it?

Musharraf: We will enter into a debate, where one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Barkha: So is the Lakshar-e-Toiba a freedom fighter group for you?

Musharraf: From our point of view anyone who is fighting in Kashmir, your part of Kashmir, is a Mujahid who’s fighting for the freedom, for the rights of the people of Kashmir.

Barkha: Using acts of terror that often see innocent women, children killed?

Musharraf: As…as…as.. just a minute, as enshrined in the UN Charter, by the UN recognized as a dispute, okay. Now the other part: Terrorism; they are fighting against the Indian Army and Indian Army is killing the civilians. So who is the terrorist? Isn’t the Indian Army also a terrorist then? I think we are going to enter into a discussion where you won’t prove anything, I also won’t prove anything.

Barkha: I want to go beyond this because you have spoken extremism and terrorism being the key challenges before Pakistan, and the reason I ask about LeT is because after the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, we have the David Headley confessions or the interrogation report and we have independent CIA reports and they all talking about the involvement of the LeT and some say some even backing from not just sections of the ISI but even army majors who have been named in the Mumbai attacks. Now what do the Mumbai attacks have to do with Kashmir, and the LeT has been implicated in the Mumbai attacks.

Musharraf: Okay… Now yes I was talking of the history in the 1990s, these organisations came into being and they had great public sympathy. Everyone in Pakistan knew it, every individual in Pakistan knew that people are volunteering to go and they are going into Kashmir to fight the Indian Army.

Barkha: With the covert help of the Pakistan establishment?

Musharraf: No, I never said that. This is the point I was making. I never said that.

Barkha: How did they get across the Line of Control?

Musharraf: Have you been to the LoC?

Barkha: Often. And I know it is porous of course. I know it’s porous.

Musharraf: If even I go there today, at this age, even I will be able to cross; nobody will be able to detect me. I will be able to infiltrate and go deep inside okay. Because there are gaps and it’s a porous border. It’s a mountain area and the more north you go, and if you are capable of walking in the snow you can go across anywhere. Right? So they are capable of doing it and they are motivated and indoctrinated. People are themselves… they don’t need training – they themselves want to go; they want to learn and want to go. The turn came when I came on the scene in 1999-2000, and then 9/11 also happened. These people turned their guns inwards, towards Pakistan and me. Right? There were suicide attacks on me. That’s because I joined the coalition forces in Afghanistan, took a decision to join. And they turned their gun on me and that is before 9/11, I had bent many of the organisations. Right? But fighting against the Indian Army in Kashmir we call them Mujahideen, and we need to settle the Kashmir dispute because its enshrined in the UN, it’s a dispute recognised by the UN.

Barkha: Many people believe – on both sides, that your famous four point formula for Kashmir remains the only pragmatic template within which Kashmir can be resolved. Do you feel a little upset that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government has kind of dismissed the theory, that this came quite close to a solution, and how close – if you can share more details with us than you have in the past. How close did our countries come to a solution?

Musharraf: You said it and let me tell you very proudly, those parameters are mine. I thought of them, because I realised that when I was talking to everyone on Pakistan side, the Indian side, the dispute is the Kashmir dispute. What is the solution? Not one of them ever gave me a solution. So therefore, that set me thinking, and that is where I came into this issue of demilitarisation, maximum self governance, this over-watch and all that, and making the LoC irrelevant. Now you asked me how close we were, we were as close as drafting the final agreement.

Barkha: Were there drafts shared on both sides?

Musharraf: Yes, of course, through back channel. Yes, we were discussing. Some good English was required; I wish you were there to form some sentences.

Barkha: What was the block? Why did it suddenly fall through? Why did it not go through? Why is the present government denying the existence of any such draft?

Musharraf: Who is denying?

Barkha: When we pose this question to the PPP government in Pakistan they say there is no paper.

Musharraf: What does your government say?

Barkha: I think our government indicates that this four point formula was a template and we were almost there.

Musharraf: I mean frankly I don’t want to get involved in that. I’ve told you…(Interrupted by Barkha)

Barkha: No. Where did it fall through? What was the stumbling block?

Musharraf: As I said we were drafting and in fact on the other two issues we could have signed any day.

Barkha: Which were the other two issues?

Musharraf: Siachen, and Sir Creek, we could have signed any day. We carried out the joint survey by the two navies of the Sir Creek area and we know exactly the disputed area in the land and in the sea. A joint survey and we could have reached an agreement. On Siachen, where we needed to withdraw the forces and the demiliatrised zone, we could have reached an agreement. I mean if the two leaders decide to sign they will, they can, and Kashmir was the issue….

Barkha: How close did it come on Kashmir? Was there a specific draft on Kashmir in the back channels, or given your four point formula?

Musharraf: Well it was being formed. The draft was being formulated, that is the good thing, and it was being formulated in good spirit.

Source: NDTV

 

One comment

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