Defying strike, Hurriyat says no to Osama and yes to Pak
20 September 2001
The Indian Express
Srinagar: THE Hurriyat Conference today came out in support of Pakistan’s decision to go along with the US on the issue of Osama bin Laden, saying he was irrelevant to their struggle for right to self- determination. Hurriyat Chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat also appealed to the people against paying any heed to the militant outfits’ call for a strike on Friday to demonstrate solidarity with those in Pakistan who are opposing their government for siding with the US. Four militant outfits — Jamait-ul-Mujahideen, Al Badar, Jaish-e- Muhammad and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen — have called for a strike tomorrow. The call has been supported by radical women’s outfit Dukhtaran-e-Milat. ‘‘We hope the people will hear us and no hartal will be observed. There are periods in people’s collective struggle when wisdom has to reign supreme. We call upon the people not to observe any strike which doesn’t enjoy the Hurriyat’s backing,’’ Bhat stressed. Asked about Laden, Prof Bhat — after attending an emergency session of the executive council — said ‘‘we don’t want to get involved in issues which are irrelevant for us.’’ The meeting was held in the backdrop of yesterday’s address to the nation by Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf. Asked to comment on the developments in the region after the attacks in New York, Prof Bhat said: ‘‘We want all issues to be sorted out peacefully through a dialogue. The government of Pakistan — and particularly the Pakistan President — is engaged in settling the issue amicably,’’ he said. Bhat said Gen Musharraf had displayed exemplary wisdom and statesmanship in dealing with a serious crisis. ‘‘We support President Musharraf for handling the situation concerning Afghanistan and Osama bin laden in an exceptional manner. The Hurriyat condemns terrorism, but if there is urgency to bring the perpetrators to justice, there is also a dire need to differentiate terrorism from the fight for freedom,’’ he said. He stressed that it was time for India to give up its rigidity and address the Kashmir issue. Bhat said a lot had been written about the Hurriyat — ranging from speculation about its participation in elections to some members being described as moderates and others as hardliners and Islamists. ‘‘This should stop now,’’ he said. ‘‘We should move forward hand in hand and together. There are no problems within the Hurriyat now.’’ Today’s meeting was attended by hardliner Jamat-e- Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who, however, stayed away from the Press briefing. Geelani had recently said that America should realise that the one billion Muslims in the world would not succumb to its repressive and tyrannical attitude for ever.