Pakistan's political crisis triggered by Musharraf's March 9 unconstitutional acts not only seriously strained the fabric of internal peace and harmony but also dealt a serious below to Pakistan's interests and image abroad. The emergency proclamation followed by other illegal acts and strong resistance by the civil society and legal fraternity consumed national time and energy and the progress achieved in foreign policy arenas received a huge set back. The peace process with India, whatever it is worth, after four years persistent efforts was showing signs of some forward movement in regard to Kashmir. The general elections on February 18 and the political crisis that has since affected the country on terms of engagement between the PPP and PML-N has further contributed to this paralysis. Lack of progress on Kashmir however did not minimise its status as the prime hurdle in the normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. The coalition between the PPP and PML-N having floundered and the PPP left as the sole ruling party, its chairman Zardari before his assumption of the presidency aired his views on foreign policy issues in an interview with Indian TV anchor Karan Thapar. Zardari declared that Indo-Pak relations cannot be held hostage to the Kashmir issue. The resolution "can wait" and set aside for future generations to solve. Elaborating his party's position on the issue Zardari stated that there is a need to focus on other issues. Once there is improvement in the political climate due to increased economic interaction and closer people-to-people contact the issue could lend itself to resolution - a reflection of India's historical position long rejected by Pakistan. This statement has assumed greater significance with Zardari's election as the President of the Republic and can now be taken as the official policy of Pakistan on Kashmir. The policy is indeed an echo of Musharraf's policy based on appeasement of India and unilateral concessions and CBMs which failed to move the issue forward or motivate India to show any flexibility on the issue. During the last five years since the peace process was launched in January 2004, little substantive progress has been made despite scores of rounds of talks between Islamabad and New Delhi. Given the circumstances surrounding Zardari's accession to presidency it would be difficult to expect the government to deviate from a policy approved by Washington and pursued by Musharraf. This policy has been summarised and accepted by co-chairman PPP in the following words: "There are several ways to strengthen our relations. One important way is through economic integration and trade, business cooperation, media exchanges, transportation links between our two countries, the energy requirements of our economies, sports and entertainment events, cooperation in information technology, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in medicine, education and agriculture." Apart from the fact that this policy is not in sync with the emotions of Pakistanis and aspirations of Kashmiris it has come at an unfortunate time. The Kashmiris have risen against India's rule in a nationwide uprising reminiscent of 1989. They are writing a new history of their freedom struggle with their blood. So far the tally of Kashmiris killed by Indian troops is 48 on September 25 also 12 were martyred with hundreds injured and arrested in demonstrations across the valley. Their leaders have been arrested en mass and Indian Occupied Kashmir is in a state of siege with economic blockade. But it has failed to cow down the freedom loving Kashmiris. The unrest is spreading, despite the killing of eight major Kashmiri leaders including the charismatic Sheikh Abdul Aziz. Though ostensibly the situation was triggered by a government decision to award 99 acres of land to a Hindu Temple Trust but the spontaneous and massive turnout in protests and demonstrations showed that the Kashmiri Muslims are not prepared to live under Delhi's guns anymore. Despite a 10-year repression and police brutalities the struggle continues becoming fiercer everyday. Against this grim backdrop the statement of Zardari has demoralised and disappointed the Kashmiri people and further eroded Indian Occupied Kashmir Muslims faith in Pakistan support to their legitimate struggle. The unfortunate timing aside the official reaction of the PPP government at the continuing killings of innocents has not been at par with the gravity of the situation or Pakistan's standard position. President Zardari's address to the UNGA carried no condemnation of Indian brutalities either. Now that Co-Chairman Zardari is also President of the Republic. He should revisit the entire dimension of relations with India with utmost sensitivity and caution. The foreign office should be given full charge of policy options and formulation. The January 6, 2004 joint statement launching peace process was made without reference to the foreign office and the sterility of the process is a standing rebuke to the unprofessional approach. Kashmir is a national issue and its resolution should be subject to parliamentary approval and political consensus, otherwise a solution would remain elusive as in the eight years of Musharraf's rule despite his unilateral "flexibility" approach and "out of box" solutions. The writer is a former ambassador