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On the scene: Musharraf tribute at Gandhi shrine

Musharraf at Gandhi shrine
Musharraf said the Mahatma's ideals should be reflected in future India-Pakistan relations  


NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Within hours of arriving in the Indian capital, New Delhi, Pakistan's military ruler President Pervez Musharraf honored the man known in India as "the father of the nation" -- Mahatma Gandhi.

It was a case of a Muslim respecting a Hindu who stood -- and died -- for Hindu-Muslim unity; a soldier laying a wreath at the cremation site of an apostle of peace.

Watching on TV was Rajmohan Ghandi, grandson of the Mahatma.

"To see Musharraf lay a wreath at Gandhi's cremation place was a touching feeling," he told CNN.

"I think my grandfather would have felt it just appropriate for a man of Musharraf's background to confront the idea of peace, non-violence, of reconciliation," he added.

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Rajmohan Gandhi also said he was "encouraged" by these words the Pakistani leader wrote in a visitor's book at the shrine to the Mahatma: "Never has the requirement of his [Gandhi's] ideals been more keenly felt than today, especially in the context of Pakistan-India relations. May his soul rest in peace."

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Asked if this was a "peace gesture" by Musharraf, the Mahatma's grandson told CNN: "I think it should be seen as that. Of course the next day or two will reveal more."

'Join hands'

Earlier, Pakistani officials released a written statement by their leader to coincide with his arrival in India.

"I have come with an open mind and look forward to my discussions with Indian leaders on establishing peaceful, tension-free and cooperative relations between our two countries," the statement read.

Musharraf called on the Indian leaders to "join hands with us" in resolving the most contentious issue dividing the two countries -- the disputed territory of Kashmir.

Since Muslim Pakistan was partitioned from predominantly Hindu India in 1947, the dispute over Kashmir has bedeviled the relationship and caused two all-out wars between them.

In India, Musharraf is widely believed to have masterminded the last "near-war" between the nuclear neighbors, in mid 1999 -- adding poignancy and controversy to his arrival here calling for peace.

Selling a deal

Musharraf
Musharraf says he has come to India with 'an open mind'  

Kashmir is expected to dominate the talks when Musharraf sits down with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in the Taj Mahal city of Agra on Sunday.

Rajmohan Gandhi, a noted analyst and commentator in India, describes Kashmir as the "crux" of the summit.

"President Musharraf has to take back some evidence of some movement from India on the Kashmir question," Gandhi told CNN.

"Can Prime Minister Vajpayee give that? I think much hinges on that.

"Of course he will expect some action by Pakistan or some commitment by President Musharraf on cross-border violence," Gandhi said, referring to extremist Muslim guerrillas using Pakistan and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir as entry routes into Indian-controlled Kashmir.

But even if the two leaders have the will to compromise on Kashmir they could have difficulty selling any such deal to hardline elements in their respective countries.

While the focus of Musharraf's visit here is the future, he took time out Saturday to look back, visiting what remains of his family's mansion in Old Delhi.

He lived there until he was four, when his family moved to the then newly created Pakistan.

Waiting for him Saturday was the family's former maid, who stayed on in India and is now believed to be 90.

Now the little boy she had helped look after was returning as the ruler of the country his family went to help establish.

Musharraf's return "home" was also a powerful reminder that Indians and Pakistanis -- now such fierce foes -- were once one.






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