Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistani officials reacted strongly to statements made by Sen. Joseph Lieberman Tuesday, in which the Connecticut senator said that an upcoming speech on terrorism by Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf would detail a "bold and principled initiative" to resolving the standoff between India and Pakistan.
After meeting with Musharraf Tuesday during a senatorial delegation's visit to Islamabad, Lieberman, D-Conn., turned to the microphones and said he was encouraged that Musharraf would make a very important gesture in the next two or three days when the president gives a speech with a "bold and principled initiative."
"I think the speech ... is going to be critically important," Lieberman said. "I hope it will lead to a de-escalation of tensions and perhaps even to a new chapter in the relationship between Pakistan and India."
Senior Pakistani government officials told Fox News Wednesday that Lieberman's statement gives the false impression that Pakistan is ready to make concessions. They said Lieberman did not receive any preview of Musharraf's upcoming speech and that the senator overstated the case and raised expectations too high when he said the speech should encourage a response from the Indian government.
India and Pakistan are nowhere near reconciliation over Kashmir. The two countries have been fighting over the disputed territory of Kashmir for more than 50 years. They have gone to war twice before over the area, and have been on the brink of another since Pakistani-based militants attacked India's Parliament on Dec. 13. On Tuesday, more gunfire was exchanged along the border between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir.
In Kashmir, Indian forces outnumber Pakistani troops by nine to one. Elsewhere along the border, they're outnumbered by three to one.
India has demanded a major shift in Pakistan's policy on Kashmir, something which is not expected from Musharraf's upcoming speech. Musharraf has offered to meet with Indian Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee at any time
Musharraf has not said when he will deliver the awaited speech, only that it will not take place before Saturday.