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Pakistani President Says Quake Offers Peace Opportunity


Pakistan's president says last month's deadly earthquake, which killed more than 73,000 people in South Asia, also represents a unique opportunity for India and Pakistan to resolve their long conflict over Kashmir.

President Pervez Musharraf says the devastating earthquake has helped unite India and Pakistan. He describes the new "feeling of togetherness" as an opportunity of a lifetime to improve relations between the historic rivals.

"Fleeting opportunities do not come every day," said Pervez Musharraf. "Therefore, let good, let success and let happiness emerge from the ruins of this catastrophe, especially for devastated people of Kashmir."

He made the comments Saturday during a donors conference raising funds for earthquake recovery efforts.

The massive earthquake leveled entire communities in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, not far from the line of control that divides the disputed territory. The Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir also was battered by the quake, but less seriously than Pakistan.

Both countries claim all of Kashmir and India and Pakistan have twice gone to war over the rugged Himalayan region.

But since the October 8 earthquake, Islamabad and New Delhi have worked together to help many of the towns and villages in the disaster zone.

India has donated supplies and financial support for Pakistan's recovery effort. The military rivals have also opened five points along the de-facto border in Kashmir to allow a freer flow of aid and help reunite families hard hit by last month's quake.

During his nationally televised address to the donor conference, Mr. Musharraf praised New Delhi for its support and then challenged both countries, India and Pakistan, to solve the dispute over Kashmir.

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