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Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
'Peace opportunity' for Kashmir
Indian securitymen keep vigil in Kashmir
Musharraf says he is ready to talk on Kashmir
Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has said a ceasefire offer in Kashmir presents an opportunity to India and Pakistan to solve the dispute.

The offer was made last week by a leading militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen.


It is up to India and Pakistan together to take this opportunity and initiate the process of dialogue

General Musharraf
Speaking to BBC News Online in a live webcast, General Musharraf said his country wanted peace and he was ready to negotiate on Kashmir anywhere in the world and at any time.

To watch coverage of the forum, select a link below:

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"One sees a window of opportunity in whatever is happening around," the general said.

"It is up to India and Pakistan together to take this opportunity and initiate the process of dialogue towards an ultimate resolution of this long-standing dispute."

He also called for a reduction in both India's and Pakistan's armed forces and for a "no-war" pact.

He said he was offering all kinds of peace initiatives and, as he put it: "The ball is in India's court."

Peace was the only way to prevent a nuclear flare-up in South Asia, the general said.

"That is the guarantee against such doomsday scenarios," he said.

On domestic issues, General Musharraf said that his drive against corruption would continue.

Democracy

Fielding questions from around the world, Pakistan's military ruler said he wished to establish democracy in the country within the next two years, but stressed the need for new politicians.

"A new leadership has to be thrown up. Both [former leaders] Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto have been tried twice and have failed to deliver," he said.

Political rally
The general is keen on restoring democracy
He denied that he was being vindictive in his attitude towards Mr Sharif and Ms Bhutto.

Mr Sharif, he said, was being tried in a civil court and there was no attempt by the military to influence the case.

"We do intend to bring the big fish into the accountability net. I'm sure we will achieve the target of making the country and its leaders conscious of the fact that we need to eradicate corruption," he said.

Asked how he differed from his country's previous military leaders, he said he was not there for"self-perpetuation".

He said he wanted to restructure the country which, he added, he was doing by means of a civilian and not a military administration.

General Musharraf came to power last October, when he overthrew the government of Nawaz Sharif.

He has pledged to return Pakistan to democracy as soon as he is able to clean up the country, improve its economic standing and generally "restore its place in the world".

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | South Asia
Pakistan after the coup: Special report
02 Jul 00 | South Asia
Musharraf renews dialogue call
29 Apr 00 | South Asia
Musharraf seeks Kashmir talks
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