Kashmir resolution earlier than expected: Musharraf
Apr 26, 2007 - 4:09:56 PM

Lahore, April 26 - Describing Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a credible leader, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said the world might see the Kashmir issue resolved 'earlier than expected'.

'A reasonable progress on the Kashmir issue has already been achieved,' Musharraf, who is visiting Spain as part of a four-nation tour, said in Madrid Wednesday.

He said Manmohan Singh is 'a credible leader and a man of peace' who supported Pakistan's strong desire for settlement of the Kashmir issue.

Addressing the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Spanish Congress, he said a military option was no answer to the problem and the option of using force to settle bilateral disputes between Pakistan and India had never worked in the past.

Musharraf said the people of both countries wanted peace and harmony to utilise their resources and energies in the socio-economic sectors.

Referring to Pakistan-India efforts in bringing peace to South Asia, he said the two countries had taken several confidence-building measures. However, these alone would not be enough to achieve the objective of peace and normalisation of relations between the two countries.

Musharraf said the two countries must move towards conflict resolution, Associated Press of Pakistan - news agency reported from Madrid.

Media reports said the Spanish leadership wished the two South Asian neighbours the best, hoping that the outstanding issues would be resolved.

Musharraf emphasised the need for the world to deal with crucial issues like terrorism. He also said that elections would be held in the country this year on time.

Addressing a gathering of overseas Pakistanis, Nusharraf said Pakistan had to eliminate extremism and terrorism, which were eating into the foundation of society.

He gave away one of Pakistan's most prestigious civilian award to 14 Spaniards for relief work in his country after a massive earthquake in 2005. Six military personnel and eight civilians received the Star of Excellence award in recognition of their work in the aftermath of the quake that killed 80,000 people in the north of Pakistan, Dawn newspaper said.

'It's a unique privilege and honour to express gratitude from the people of Pakistan to those who came in assistance in our hour of need,' Musharraf said at a ceremony in which he personally pinned the medals on the Spaniards, all men. 'They came to the remotest areas of Pakistan and left their home and hearts to help,' the Nation quoted him as saying.

More than 400 Spaniards went to Pakistan to help in relief efforts. Musharraf also praised the aid and reconstruction from other countries to alleviate Pakistan's worst natural disaster.

'This challenge was met successfully because we were not alone,' said Musharraf. He said his government is still reconstructing medical facilities, homes and schools, which were destroyed by the quake.

'There was no famine, no epidemic, no one froze to death,' he said. 'I give all the credit to people like these heroes that came to assist us.'

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