On President Musharraf's Speech

Date: 
Sunday, January 13, 2002

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

In the background of the tense relations between India and Pakistan, the speech by President Musharraf will have a positive impact. The speech indicates a serious effort to deal with the problem of religious extremism in Pakistan. The Pakistani President has set out concrete steps to tackle the manifestations of extremism. The Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad and three other sectarian organisations have been banned. President Musharraf has declared that no organisation will be allowed to indulge in terrorism in the name of religion.

In addressing India's concerns, a significant point is the assertion that no individual or organisation would be allowed to indulge in acts of terrorism in the name of Kashmir. Musharraf has stated that the question of extraditing non-Pakistanis wanted for terrorist offences will be considered. As for Kashmir, the speech reiterates Pakistan's basic position on the issue while holding out the offer of a dialogue. Resumption of bilateral talks should be the goal without any third party mediation.

The major policy statement by the Pakistani President should help in creating the atmosphere for de-escalating tensions. The first step should be to demobilise troops on both sides of the border. The Vajpayee government must respond by exploring the basis for resumption of dialogue.