New Delhi, Apr 4: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has refuted India's claim that terrorist camps continue to operate from his country and advocated a visa-free regime as part of confidence-building measures to resolve the lingering Kashmir issue.
Firmly denying Pakistan's involvement in harbouring terrorism, Mr Sharif said there was no substance in the Indian Home Ministry's report that the terrorist training camps were still operating from Pakistan. "There are no such camps operating in Pakistan,'' Mr Sharif said in an interview to Aaj Tak's 'Seedhi Baat' programme, to be telecast on April 6. Mr Sharif, whose PML (N) is an important constituent of the new coalition government in Pakistan, said the visa system must be abolished between the two countries to improve their bilateral ties and promote a free movement of people from across the border.
''There should be a free movement of people. I have asked Zardari Sahab (PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari) as well. When the two countries come closer (by these confidence building measures), the problem of Kashmir will be automatically solved,'' he added.
He went further and said Pakistan should unilaterally abolish the mandatory visa requirement for Indians who want to visit that country even if India reciprocates it or not. Mr Sharif also asserted that Mr Zardari concurred with his views on a visa-free regime between the two countries.
''There should be free movement of people. I am of the opinion that we (Pakistan) should unilaterally announce a visa-free regime for the people (of India) who want to visit Islamabad, whether India reciprocates this or not. I have spoken to Zardari Sahab about it and I think he also feels the same.'' Asked whether he had changed his opinion about President Pervez Musharraf, who was till recently the Army Chief, Mr Sharif asserted that he had neither struck a deal with Mr Musharraf nor had gone soft on him.
''I think an autocrat has no role to play in a democratic set-up. Musharraf has harmed many institutions in the country. I have been telling Zardari Sahab about it and hope that he would agree to my suggestions. We intend to bring a legislation for President's removal in Parliament and Musharraf is isolated and will have to go,'' he said. Will he ever fight elections again? ''I will surely fight elections,'' was his prompt reply. However, he denied any ill-feelings towards Mr Musharraf and said he did not intend to take revenge on the former Army Chief.