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India-Pakistan ties improved under Manmohan, not Vajpayee, says Musharraf.

London, October 11, 2010 (Frontier Star): The former Pakistani President, Parvez Musharraf, has said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh deserves full marks for his sincerity in resolving the Kashmir issue and wanting peace with Pakistan, but is held back from making a bold move for fear of domestic political backlash. General (retired) Musharraf said that it was Dr. Singh, and not his Bharatiya Janata Party predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who deserved real credit for the breakthrough in India-Pakistan relations. It was with Manmohan Singh that we moved forward towards an agreement, not with Vajpayee, he told NDTV in the second part of his widely reported interview with Barkha Dutt. I give full marks to Manmohan Singh, he said, but claimed that the Indian Prime Minister lacked boldness and courage in making any concessions on Kashmir for fear of domestic pressures. In any agreement, there is give and take... and it is the give part that creates problems, he said while calling for a bold and courageous Indian response. General Musharraf said that India and Pakistan were very close to an agreement before he lost power. We were as close as drafting the final agreement. Asked how close they came to an agreement on Kashmir and whether there was a specific draft on the issue, he said: Well it was being formed. The draft was being formulated, that is the good thing, and it was being formulated in good spirit. He dismissed the Lahore Declaration signed during the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayees, visit to Pakistan in February 1999 with the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He said there was nothing in Lahore Declaration that could form the basis for a settlement of the Kashmir dispute which, he insisted, must be resolved in the interest of genuine peace. General Musharraf said he happened to see the draft of the Declaration and was surprised that there was no mention of Kashmir. He said he told Mr. Sharif that it made no sense and a few sentences were then drafted. But he removed them from the final Declaration. In a way he (Sharif) bluffed me, he said. General Musharraf also questioned the interviewers reference to the Agra Agreement of 2001 saying that there was no agreement. It was only when the Congress returned to power in 2004 with Dr. Singh as Prime Minister that the two countries moved forward towards an agreement. He said Dr. Singh had a very good sense about India-Pakistan relations. I respect him very much, he repeatedly said. General Musharraf said he had no regrets over Kargil, describing it as a result of the history of confrontation between the two countries.

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Publication:The Frontier Star (Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Oct 11, 2010
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