March 2001 News

JKLF seeks US support for Kashmir liberation

21 March 2001
The News International
Amir Mateen

WASHINGTON: Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik on Saturday asked the US to support Kashmiris in their freedom struggle.He stated this while addressing a seminar in Boston, the transcript of which was acquired from the organisers at the Harvard Law College. Yasin Malik, who is in US for his medical treatment, was the key speaker at a seminar entitled "From the Precipice of war to the path of peace."The principles of freedom and justice are very dear to the Americans," he said during his speech, adding, "All we are asking is to help us get those rights in Kashmir." He sought the US help in "bringing to end the long night of suppression in Kashmir."Yasin was reportedly introduced as a "freedom fighter" by his host Professor Huasthannum. He is reported to have been listened with rapt attention by about 250 people, which included top US officials, academics and scholars as well as Pakistani and Indian diplomats.Frail and sick, Yasin, who is also executive member of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, suffers from heart and kidney problems. In the face of his deteriorating health, New Delhi was forced to give him a passport, albeit a restricted passport, which bars him from participating in political activities here.But this has not deterred Yasin from pleading the cause of Kashmir. In his speech, Kashmiris were known to be non-violent people but they were forced to take up arms. "I took up the arms myself," he announced boldly, disregarding the presence of Indian diplomats.In 1994, however, he was the first one to announce a unilateral cease-fire, hoping that this would pave the way for peace and dialogue. "But nothing of the sort happened," he said, adding," Nobody offered us anything in return and this was considered as our weakness. We were pushed to the wall. On the contrary, the most barbarous reign of terror was unleashed on us."He said that at least 72,000 people had been killed since then. "But let me announce this today. Nobody can stop Kashmir from becoming independent," reads his transcript. "It is an established fact that cannot be unwritten.This will happen sooner or later, but till that time we are keeping an eye on who is our friend, and who is not." The seminar was attended by a large number of Kashmiri pundits as well. Yasin is reported to have them neutralised by accepting their right as Kashmiris. "You are as much Kashmiris as other minority," he is reported to have responded to one of their questions. Yasin also had LSE Professor Sumantra Bose, who is grand son of rebel Indian leader Subash Chander Bose, on his panel.He is reported to have a sympathetic understanding of the Kashmiri cause. Other participant included American academics like Stephen Cohen, Micheal Krepon and Ambassador Terasita SchafferSpeaking on the occasion from Pakistani side, Professor Hassan Askari Rizvi also read a paper on "Economic costs of the conflict for both India and Pakistan and the dividends of peace for South Asia."


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