Vol. 4 Num 36 Wed. July 02, 2003  

Pakistan vows to end row with India

President Pervez Musharraf affirmed Monday Pakistan's commitment to peacefully resolving its disputes with India but said the conflict over Kashmir must be addressed with sincerity.

Musharraf reiterated "Pakistan's desire and resolve towards the resolution of all disputes... and our desire to address in a composite manner all issues concerned, but addressing the whole issue of Kashmir with sincerity."

His remarks, made in Berlin after talks with his German counterpart Johannes Rau, came after a Pakistani ambassador had arrived in India in the most visible sign yet of a normalisation in their ties after a long military standoff.

Diplomatic ties between the nuclear-armed rivals, along with train, air and bus links, were severed after an attack on India's parliament in December 2001 by gunmen whom New Delhi claims were sponsored by Islamabad.

The two neighbours have recently adopted a number of confidence-building measures including a planned exchange of diplomats and resumption of transport links to ease the way to dialogue.

Last week, Musharraf suggested a Middle East-style peace roadmap on Kashmir that would include outside mediation, but India has rejected the proposal.

India, whose prime minister visited Germany a month ago, accuses Pakistan of fomenting a 13-year insurgency against its rule in the Kashmir region in which more than 38,000 people have died according to Indian figures.

After the talks with Rau, the first by Musharraf during his two-day visit, the Pakistani president also called for the political and military strategy in Afghanistan to be reviewed so that foreign troops could be withdrawn.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (R) has a laugh with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf during a joint press conference in Berlin on Monday. Musharraf touched down in Berlin on the latest leg of a four-nation tour after a high-profile visit to the United States. Photo: AFP