India, Pakistan were 'near Kashmir dispute resolution' during Musharraf regime: Kasuri

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New Delhi, Jan 21(ANI): India and Pakistan were near a resolution of their bilateral issues- including the Kashmir dispute- during the tenure of the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri has said.

Addressing the Indian Council of World Affairs on Thursday, Kasuri said one of the reasons for the continuing tensions between India and Pakistan was that both nations had not been able to resolve their bilateral disputes ever since their independence, and as a result, the rift had deepened, Online-International News Network reports.

Other than Kashmir, the issues of concern between both countries were water, Sir Creek, Siachen and terrorism, he said, adding that a lot of progress was made on settling these bilateral issues during the tenure of the past Pakistan government, during which he was the Foreign Minister.

The progress was so great that it was widely acknowledged in South Asia as well as abroad, Kasuri stressed, adding that Pakistan and India were near a resolution of their bilateral disputes- including that of Kashmir- which had caused many wars between the two countries.

He said that the main features of the draft agreement on Kashmir involved, inter alia, a gradual demilitarisation as the situation improved, self-governance and a joint mechanism involving the Kashmiris from both sides as well as the presence of Pakistani and Indian representatives in this process.

The purpose was to improve the comfort level of the Kashmiris, said Kasuri, adding that the joint mechanism envisaged cooperation in various fields, including exploitation of water resources and hydroelectric power.

Self-governance also provided the maximum possible powers to the Kashmiris to manage their political, economic, financial and social matters and also enhanced travel and economic interaction on both sides of the LOC, he said.

As far as the Kashmiris on both sides were concerned, the LOC would be made irrelevant for the movement of goods and people for practical purposes, he added.

The former Pakistan minister said the agreement, though not ideal, was the best possible one under the prevailing circumstances, and it was felt that it would be acceptable to the majority of the people of Kashmir, Pakistan and India.

The agreement was of an interim nature and provided for a review after 15 years, he added. (ANI)

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