July 2001 News

PoK PM''s crowning clips wings of doves

27 July 2001
The Indian Express

New Delhi: THE Pakistan army''s installation of Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan as premier of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) through brazen intervention has hurt political lobbies campaigning against continued militancy in Kashmir. Though Hayat Khan heads a minority faction of Muslim Conference, he has superceded Sardar Atique Khan, who enjoys majority support in the legislature party. He is the son of Muslim Conference chief and former premier Sardar Qayoom Khan. The army had no qualms about its role in putting a leader on the hotseat. Hayat Khan, who holds no hardline views on Kashmir, is at best rated a ''yes- man''. According to Mir Khursheed, a former close aide of Qayoom Khan, the leader fell out of favour with the Pakistani leadership when he doubted the use of violence as a viable means of achieving Kashmir?s freedom from India. Khursheed, still in touch with Qayoom Khan, said: ''The army made it clear to Atique and his father that they did not want leaders in the saddle (in PoK) who have been calling for an end to Kashmir?s armed struggle.'' If Khursheed is to be believed, Qayoom Khan is unlikely to keep quiet though there is little scope for rebellion against an army diktat. Khursheed said the last time he heard of the leader, both father and son were in Islamabad trying to talk sense into the army top brass. Qayoom Khan is known as Mujahid-e- Awwal (Pioneer Fighter) for his role in commanding the 1948 tribal raid in Kashmir and converting PoK into a basecamp for militants. The aggressive leader lately underwent a change of heart. In October, he had said clearly that ''Kashmiris could not afford the bloodbath''. In fact, Qayoom Khan was outraged with the emergence of ''foreign mercenaries on Kashmiri soil''. In an apparent reference to them, he told The Indian Express: ''Some unknown elements seem to have taken over the Kashmiris'' movement. They are trying to settle their own agenda in Kashmir.'' During his premiership, however, arms training camps were opened all over PoK for militants. He also set up a special fund for the ''Kashmiri struggle''. His later change of stance came as music to India''s ears. At international fora, he spoke about the uselessness of violence and welcomed India''s ceasefire call.


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