Islamabad — Pakistan leader Gen. Mohammed Zia ul Haq told reporters today that the Soviet
Union has agreed there is “no military solution”’ for Afghanistan, but said the two countries still differ on ways to resolve the problem.
Zia, who returned home late Thursday from Moscow, where he attended the funeral of Konstantin Chernenko, told a news conference he had two meetings with the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, during his two-day stay.
Afghanistan, in the grip of civil war since Soviet military intervention in 1979, ‘‘as expected, figured largely’ in discussions with Gorbachev, Zia said.
“I was reassured by his assertion that the Soviet Union, too, was committed to supporting a political solution under the auspices of the United Nations sponsored _indirect talks,’’ said Zia, in opening remarks.
He described his two meetings with Gorbachey as “businesslike,” and said they “‘reinforced my conviction that given patience, goodwill and understanding on both sides, we can make progress toward narrowing our differences and arriving at a mutually satisfactory and acceptable solution.
“Certainly, both sides seem to be aware that the problem does not admit of a military solution,” said Zia, who spoke in Urdu and English.
“While there were obvious differences of perception, I’ left him in no doubt about the sincerity and seriousness with which Pakistan was pursuing the objective of finding a peaceful political solution to the problem,” Zia said.
Pakistan, which has an estimated 3 million Afghan refugees on its soil, shares a 1,560mile border with Afghanistan.
Moscow has said there can be no settlement until Pakistan ceases to be a conduit for Moslem guerrilla groups and weapons supplies. Pakistan demands immediate Soviet withdrawal as a precondition for the return of the refugees.
While he was in Moscow, Zia said he also met Vice President George Bush, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain, Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India.
Zia said a meeting with Gandhi, held in the Pakistan Embassy in Moscow, resulted in agreement on the need to normalize relations.
While he was in Moscow, Zia said he learned India will probably send a high-powered delegation to Pakistan in the near future to pick up the thread of previous normalization talks.
“We welcome this move and other efforts and we hope that relations between Pakistan and India will be well on the road to normalization,”’ Zia said.
Zia added that better relations with India would allow him to pay less attention to his eastern border and concentrate on strengthening defenses along the western border with Afghanistan.
Article extracted from this publication >> March 22, 1985