Hurriyat lauds Pak bid to resolve Osama standoff
18 September 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: THE All Parties Hurriyat Conference yesterday said it appreciated the efforts of Pakistan to ‘‘avoid a war in the cockpit of Asia’’ by sending a high-powered delegation to Afghanistan to negotiate on Osama bin Laden’s handover. ‘‘We appreciate the efforts to settle contentious issues throgh peaceful means and to generate a climate that helps ensure peace in the whole world,’’ Hurriyat Conference chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said. While refusing to commit himself on whether Taliban should hand over Osama or not, he said it would be an achievement if Pakistan’s talks with Afganistan led to a way out. Justifying the Hurriyat’s refusal to take a stand on Osama, Bhat added: ‘‘America is yet to determine who actually are involved in the World Trade Centre and Pentagon flying bombings. And when they do it, the haze ostensibly will clear off and we would be able to take a stand.’’ He also asserted: ‘‘America should fight terrorism in accordance with the principles of justice.’’ Two other Hurriyat leaders have already said that America should not retaliate merely on the basis of suspicion. Former Huriyat chairman and member of World Islamic League Syed Ali Shah Geelani has said that any attack on Afghanistan, merely on the basis of suspicion, would be treated as an attack on the entire Muslim community. ‘‘We are part of the ummah (the extended Muslim nation). We cannot remain unconcerned when a Muslim in any part of the world is being subjugated or is in trouble. Let them punish the attackers after establishing who they are. But taking revenge on mere suspicion is clearly against justice,’’ Geelani said recently. Another Hurriyat executive and Shia clergyman Moulana Abass Ansari has also warned America against acting on suspicion alone, and has taken Osama’s side for lack of any evidence. ‘‘There has to be solid evidence against bin Laden, who doesn’t possess the resources which where required to destroy the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.’’ He even asserted that if America did attack Afghanistan without any solid proof, then ‘‘America is the biggest terrorist in the world’’. Earlier, the Hurriyat had linked the attacks in the US with several ‘‘root causes’’ and demanded that these be addressed. Geelani had accused the US of adopting discriminatory policies towards Muslims and said these were responsible for such attacks. He had said that given its policies, the US should not expect one billion Muslims across the world to be happy with it. But later, in a change of stance — perhaps dictated by the fast-changing equations in the subcontinent and the pressure on Pakistan — the Hurriyat had written a letter to US President George W. Bush expressing solidarity with the people and the Government of the country. It had also condemned the attacks and terrorism in all forms, adding that the Hurriyat was determined to join the Americans in fighting terrorism.