Musharraf ‘gives full marks’ to ’sincere’ Manmohan Singh for Kashmir solution efforts

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LONDON - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deserves ‘full marks’ for his ’sincere’ efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue and have peace with Pakistan, but is held back from taking a bold step over fears of domestic political backlash, former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said.

In a TV interview, Musharraf disclosed that it was Manmohan, and not his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who deserved the credit for a breakthrough in Indo-Pak relations, the Dawn reported.

“It was with Manmohan Singh that we moved forward towards an agreement, not with Mr Vajpayee,” he said.

“I give full marks to Manmohan Singh,” he said, but added that the Indian premier lacked ‘courage’ in giving any concession on Kashmir, fearing domestic pressures.

“In any agreement, there is give and take… and it is the ‘give’ part that creates problems,” the APML founder noted.

Manmohan had a “very good sense” about Indo-Pak relations, he acknowledged, adding, “I respect him very much.”

Musharraf said that India and Pakistan were very close to an agreement before he lost power. “We were as close as drafting a final agreement.”

“The draft was being formulated, that is the good thing, and it was being formulated in good spirit,” he added.

But the former general insisted that there was “nothing in the Lahore Declaration” signed by the then Indian Premier, Vajpayee, and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in February 1999, which could form the basis for a settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

Musharraf revealed that he was surprised to see “no mention” of Kashmir in the declaration’s draft, adding that a few sentences were drafted when he told Nawaz that it otherwise made no sense.

“But he (Nawaz) removed them from the final declaration. In a way, he bluffed me,” he rued.

When asked about the ‘Agra Agreement’ of 2001, the former president claimed that there was no agreement, adding that it was only when the Congress returned to power in 2004 with Manmohan as the Indian prime minister that the two countries “moved forward towards an agreement”.

Musharraf, however, said that he had “no regrets” over Kargil, describing it as a result of the history of “confrontation” between the two countries. (ANI)

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