NEW DELHI – Pakistan is willing to give up its claim to Kashmir if India agrees to a far-reaching self-governance plan for the Himalayan region, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf suggested Tuesday.
While New Delhi and Islamabad have made scant public progress on settling their dispute over Kashmir, officials on both sides privately say advances have been made in so-called "back channel" negotiations, most of them between retired officials from both sides.
Musharraf's remarks on Tuesday provided a snapshot of what an eventual solution could look like.
He told the independent New Delhi Television that Pakistan would agree to greater autonomy or self-governance for Kashmir with New Delhi and Islamabad jointly supervising the region. Both India and Pakistan claim all of predominantly Muslim Kashmir.
Asked if Pakistan was ready to give up its claim, he responded: "We will have to ... if this solution comes up."
The dispute over Kashmir lies at the heart of the rivalry between the two nuclear-armed South Asian countries.
Two of their three wars since independence from Britain in 1947 have been fought over Kashmir, and New Delhi accuses Islamabad of supporting an Islamic insurgency in India's two thirds of the region that has killed 68,000 people since it erupted in 1989. Pakistan says it only gives the rebels diplomatic and moral support, not material aid or training.
Despite the insurgency, India and Pakistan began a peace process in 2004 that has seen tensions between the countries ease considerably.