India cautious on Kashmir proposals

India has responded coolly to Pakistani proposals on finding new ways to end their dispute over Kashmir while opposition politicians in Pakistan rejected the proposals outright.

    Kashmir is divided by a heavily militarised ceasefire line

    Refusing to comment on the substance of the proposals, presented to journalists on Monday by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna on Tuesday noted they should have been raised through diplomatic channels.


    "We do not believe that Jammu and Kashmir is a subject on which discussions can be held through the media," Sarna said. "It is one of the subjects in the composite dialogue process, so if there are any proposals, suggestions regarding that, that is the forum that we expect they will be brought to," he told reporters in New Delhi.


    But despite his unenthusiastic response, he notably did not insist that Kashmir is an "integral" part of India, a diplomatic shorthand often used in India to dismiss peace overtures.




    Musharraf's proposals has been
    criticised by Pakistan opposition

    On Monday, Musharraf said Pakistan and India should consider making some areas of Kashmir independent, placing them under joint Indian-Pakistani control, or putting them under the administration of the United Nations.


    He said such options could only be implemented after the two countries withdrew their forces from Kashmir, where they are currently separated by a heavily militarised ceasefire line.


    "We have arrived at a stage where ... we have to consider options in a purposeful manner going toward a solution" over Kashmir, Musharraf said.


    But Pakistan's opposition quickly rejected the formula on Tuesday, saying they would never allow Musharraf to change the status of Kashmir against the wishes of its people.




    "India has long said that Kashmir is an integral part of their country and I don't think they are going to change their stance"

    Raja Zafarul Haq,
    senior leader, Pakistan Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy

    "I don't think Musharraf's proposal is in the interest of Pakistan and the Kashmiris," said Raja Zafarul Haq, a senior leader of the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, a 15-party Pakistani opposition coalition.


    "Such formulas are an insult to the sacrifices of Kashmiris," said Haq, who is also chairman of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party.


    He also said he thought India wouldn't accept the terms.


    "India has long said that Kashmir is an integral part of their country and I don't think they are going to change their stance," he said.


    A former princely state, Kashmir has been the spark for two of the three wars that India and Pakistan have fought since the two nations were carved from British-ruled India in 1947.


    The largely Muslim Himalayan region has been divided between them for decades, though both claim it in its entirety.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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