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`No change in Pak. policy on Kashmir'

By B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD NOV. 23. Maintaining that the Foreign Office was not the "last word" on policy-related matters, the Pakistan Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, has asserted that there is no change in Pakistan's Kashmir policy. He was answering a question in the course of a panel interview by Dawn whether the recent Foreign Office spokesman's statement that Pakistan was ready to talk to India on the basis of the Shimla Agreement represented a policy change.

"No. There is no change of policy. Kashmir is the core problem and it has to be solved. The foreign office is not the last word... If somebody has given his opinion, that is something different," said Mr. Jamali.

Asked whom Pakistan recognised as the genuine All-Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) after the recent split in the conglomerate, the Pakistan Premier identified the faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani as the real Hurriyat. "They were the main active partners, and I think he is the one who has been very active and very vocal throughout, and I think people respect him in the (Kashmir) Valley also," he told the daily.

Mr. Jamali accused India of trying to create a dent in the APHC and claimed that Pakistan had not sidelined other groups in the Hurriyat. Pakistan could not afford to make the same kind of mistakes it made in Afghanistan. Mr. Jamali, who begins his second year in office today, claimed that he was exercising full powers given by the Constitution but could not achieve as much as he wanted to in the first year owing to the transition from military to civilian rule.

The real strength that carried him through the first year after three years of military rule was his policy to introduce a new political culture, free from victimisation and harassment of political foes and self-aggrandisement.

He said Pakistan had gained from his decision to continue with the policies of President Musharraf's government, particularly those in the economic field, but he promised to make improvements and seek parliamentary approval of future policies.

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