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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 02:26 GMT
Musharraf seeks Bush Kashmir role
By Barbara Plett
BBC News, Islamabad

Pervez Musharraf
Mr Musharraf believes now is the ideal time for a Kashmir solution
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said he expects pressure from George W Bush for a solution of the Kashmir dispute with India.

He was speaking to the BBC ahead of a visit to the region by the US president which began on Wednesday.

Gen Musharraf also reacted strongly against allegations that his country was a base for Taleban militants fighting in Afghanistan.

He dismissed continuing protests against his rule as absolute nonsense.

Renewed push

President Musharraf urged Mr Bush to seize the opportunity to help resolve the Kashmir dispute once and for all.

All that I expect is his weight, his voice pressurising me, Indians and Kashmiris to resolve the dispute now because now is the ideal time to resolve it
Pervez Musharraf

He said he was not expecting an imminent breakthrough in a conflict that has poisoned Pakistan's relations with India for nearly six decades.

But he hoped President Bush would lead a renewed push towards a solution.

"All that I expect is his weight, his voice pressurising all three groups - me, Indians and Kashmiris - to resolve the dispute now because now is the ideal time, ideal environment to resolve it," he said.

On another front, President Musharraf said the army was taking all possible measures to try to stop militants from crossing Pakistan's border to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

Protests dismissed

Afghan officials have blamed Pakistani Islamic groups for a recent wave of suicide attacks there, but President Musharraf said the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, should look closer to home for the main causes of violence.

"If President Karzai thinks everything is happening from Pakistan, I totally disagree," he said.

"He should put his own house in order. A lot is happening in Afghanistan also. More is happening in Afghanistan itself. Less is happening from Pakistan."

The Pakistani leader also dismissed recent street protests against his military rule as absolute nonsense.

The government has cracked down heavily on rallies organised by the main Islamic opposition parties, ostensibly about cartoons of the prophet Mohammed published in the European press, but increasingly directed against Mr Musharraf and his pro-US policies.

One of the protesters' demands is that the president give up his dual position as head of state and head of the army.

The president said he did not expect any pressure on this issue from George Bush.

He said in Pakistan the military bolsters democracy by ensuring stability, implying that civilian governments do not.


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