March 2001 News

JKLF patriarch blasts "Indian agent" tag from ISI

18 March 2001
The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Founding father of JKLF and hijacker of Indian Airlines plane in 1971 Hashim Qureshi on Sunday criticised Pakistan for calling him an Indian agent and said ISI never reconciled to the fact that Kashmiris could have their own identity. Qureshi, who later formed Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party, said his return to India had caused "much of a discomfort for the Pakistani rulers and their agents." In a statement issued by his office in Holland, where he spent nearly two decades in exile, he said "I laughed at the Pakistani media dancing to the tune of its masters in ISI and terming me as an Indian agent." Qureshi, who was arrested on December 29 last year at the Indira Gandhi International airport here, said Pakistan and its agents had only seen "freedom fighters" like Ammanullah Khan, who had sold themselves to agencies like ISI. "Actually ISI can never compromise with the fact that a Kashmiri has his own identity. I am not Ammanullah Khan who will first ask for withdrawal of all cases and then come to India but instead I would like to fight out my cases," he said. Qureshi, against whom Jammu and Kashmir police filed a chargesheet recently and the case will come for hearing on March 20, said Ammanullah Khan had not even visited the Gilgit area (his birth place), which is under the oppressive rule of Pakistan. Qureshi, who after hijacking the Fokker-Friendship to Pakistan, said that whosoever spoke truth in that country was branded as an Indian agent. He said Pakistani media had described his return as a surrender to Indian authorities. Lamenting the attitude of the media in Pakistan, Qureshi said "when my mother-in-law was seriously ill, my wife had sought visa for Pakistan, which was disgracefully turned down by authorities." "We had faxed the copies to Pakistan media, but none of them had the guts to print the appeal as otherwise they would have disobeyed their intelligence agency masters," he said. Qureshi said "it was completely futile to write more about Ammanullah Khan and other so-called Kashmir leaders there as they survive in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir on the dead bodies of Kashmiri youth." Pledging his full support to the Centre's peace initiative in the state, Qureshi said "I have come here to support (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee's peace initiative and we want the end of oppression and bloodshed in Kashmir, whoever be the victim." Once a hardline supporter of Pakistan, Qureshi asked the Kashmiris to "change their thinking" in view of the "current" world situation and exhorted the "independence-loving" people of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) to launch a "formidable struggle" for freedom from "occupational forces". "I always wanted to unveil the truth. I wanted to tell the truth to Kashmiri youth about freedom... I watched the politicians and their political life from close distance. I found that falsehood, cunning and calumny had paralysed many a leader," he said. Urging the Kashmiris to keep in mind the "current situation around the world," Qureshi said "those who plunged you (Kashmiris) onto the thorns of destruction had some interest and they benefited from it." "It is time you changed your thinking ...," he said exhorting "those in pok who are dreaming of independence "to launch a formidable struggle for freedom of POK, Gilgit and Baltistan from occupational forces." (PTI)   


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