September 2001 News

No Taliban fighters in Kashmir, says Bhat

27 September 2001
The Statesman

Srinagar: The Hurriyat chairman today denied that Taliban fighters are taking part in Jammu and Kashmir’s “freedom struggle”. The allegations about Talibanisation of Kashmir were only “weapons to beat the Kashmiri people with to create an impression across the globe that they are communalists, fundamentalists and fanatics,” Prof Abdul Ghani told The Statesman. He said: “I know for certain that Afghans aren’t fighting in Kashmir. To say the Taliban is fighting in J&K and Mullah Omar (Taliban chief) is calling Kashmir’s militant groups to Afghanistan, is a political gimmick.” Mullah Omar sympathises with oppressed people across the world, including Kashmiris, but he hasn’t supported Kashmiris as openly as other countries have done. An isolated incident of an Afghani being killed in Kashmir doesn’t prove the Taliban is fighting the “freedom struggle”, Prof Bhat said in his Muslim Conference office at Wazir Bagh, Srinagar. Does he think the Taliban is promoting terrorism by giving shelter to Osama bin Laden? Prof Bhat will say so if the USA can provide evidence of Osama’s involvement in the 11 September terror attacks. “I say with conviction that if Americans produce evidence against an individual, an organisation or a state, the Hurriyat will support any action taken against them, even if that individual happens to be Osama bin Laden.” What “surprises” him the most is the attempt to link Kashmir with the USA. “America has indirectly beaten Palestinians by supporting Israel. You may even find links between America and Russia, after all Russians had suffered at the hands of Americans. But you can never find a link between what happened in America and Kashmir.” He said the terror strikes should serve as an eye-opener. From now, issues will have to be addressed with a definite purpose of resolving conflicts. Leaders across the globe should differentiate between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. “That’s very important and that’s what the people of Kashmir feel about.” If this was not done, there wouldn’t be any peace anywhere, Prof Bhat said. Terrorism has been a part of the Kashmiris’ life from day one, he said. “You can’t obliterate violence all along.You’re fighting in Chechnya, Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir... there are wars going on, but what’s important is to minimise violence in our lives.” Leaders of Pakistan and India, he said, should be realistic in tackling the Kashmir problem. Statements made in New Delhi and Islamabad can’t change the ground situation. “Leaderships throughout the world should address the root causes of a problem rather than talking about offshoot effects.” Prof Bhat had sent a letter to the US President after the terror strikes, expressing support and solidarity with the Americans. He said he was happy the USA was proceeding with “wisdom, farsightedness and responsibility, in accordance with the principles of justice”. PoK separatist leader A separatist leader from PoK has said the war against terrorism shouldn’t be limited to a particular group, but extended to states that create such groups, adds PTI from Delhi. Mr Mumtaz Khan, United Kashmir People’s Party chief, said: “The world shouldn’t ignore that Pakistani madrasahs created the Taliban and ISI enthroned it in Kabul.”


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