Saturday, Sep 14, 2002
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By Sridhar Krishnaswami
"May be it sounded harsh because of two reasons. I am a military man first of all and may be a bit too blunt and straight,'' Gen. Musharraf said. "The other, I think, it was a language of desperation. It was a language where we have done so much. I have taken so many steps; taken so many initiatives on this issue... And all the time in the hope there will be a response and reciprocation from the Indian side.''
"When that is not forthcoming what do you do? You become desperate and that is the language of desperation that I used. I only hope for peace and harmony in the region which Pakistan aspires for... and we move forward on a path of harmony through addressing first of all de-escalation on the border and addressing the core issue of Kashmir and all other issues together with Kashmir.'' He had to be "very practical and realistic'' to the ground realities in Kashmir, the General said.
`Off the mark'
The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Nirupama Rao, brushed aside the "language of desperation'' rationale of Gen. Musharraf, saying that it was totally off the mark. "Pakistan needs to do a little more soul-searching,'' she said.
Gen. Musharraf justified the barring of the former Prime Ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, from contesting the coming elections. "Do you in your country (meaning India) allow convicts to stand for election as Prime Minister and become Prime Minister,'' he asked an Indian newsperson.
But, he did spring a surprise of sorts when he made sarcastic comments on the Indian Presidency. The General, who came to power in a military coup and whose regime has ordered "sham" elections in the eyes of many Pakistanis, would not want to be the President of India as he did not believe in being a "rubber stamp'' President.
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