“India-Pakistan ties improved under Manmohan, not Vajpaye


Staff member
London October 11:

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 media 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 Vajpayee's, 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 interviewer's 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.