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Last Updated: Monday, 25 October, 2004, 20:30 GMT 21:30 UK
Musharraf urges Kashmir rethink
A Pakistani soldier at a bunker on the Line of Control
Musharraf sees a future Kashmir without soldiers
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has called for a radical new approach to the dispute with India over Kashmir, suggesting joint rule as one option.

He said Pakistan's traditional demand for a referendum was impractical while India's bid to make the Line of Control a permanent border was unacceptable.

President Musharraf suggested options including a re-division of the region and greater involvement of the UN.

The two South Asian powers have gone to war twice over Kashmir.

Speaking to diplomats and reporters in Islamabad, the Pakistani leader said he had asked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to come up with his own ideas when they met at the UN in New York in September.

"I strongly believe there are options and there is a solution," he said. "For the first time we see light at the end of the tunnel."

The BBC's Zaffer Abbas reports from the Pakistani capital that Mr Musharraf's comments are perhaps the boldest ever by a Pakistani leader on Kashmir.

'Never before'

The general told his audience that he had "never spoken like this before to anyone".

Calling for a national debate in Pakistan, he said there had to be a "change of status" for Kashmir, which is currently split into parts administered by Pakistan and India.

As the president put it, the old princely state of Jammu and Kashmir comprised seven regions different from each other on the basis of religion, ethnicity and geography.

Two are now on the Pakistani side and the other five are under the control of India.

He listed several options for a settlement:

  • The whole area could be demilitarised and made autonomous

  • It could be put under the joint control of the two countries

  • Some parts could be divided between the two countries and the Kashmir Valley would either become autonomous or be put under UN supervision.

Mr Musharraf stressed that Pakistan's call for a Kashmiri plebiscite was unacceptable to India while he was "allergic" to making the Line of Control a permanent border.

Watch the Pakistani President call for change

Los Angeles TimesFoes Assail Musharraf's Kashmir Proposals - 2 hrs ago
TelegraphCall for change of status - 9 hrs ago
Asian Age Pak balloon non-flier - 14 hrs ago
United Press International Musharraf stirs hornet's nest over Kashmir - 16 hrs ago
Reuters Musharraf's Peace Plea Gets Cool Reception - 19 hrs ago
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