April 2002 News

Pak militants ''virtual thieves'', forces ''killers with license'': Mirwaiz

25 April 2002
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Former Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq has come down heavily on Pakistani militant groups and termed them as ''virtual thieves'' who used the Kashmir cause for their benefit. Quoted in the Time magazine''s latest edition, the Mirwaiz, while terming security forces as ''killers with license'', called the Pakistani militant groups as ''virtual thieves using the Kashmir conflict to solicit funds, of which almost nothing is passed to the people.'' The Mirwaiz, who has been named by Time magazine as one of the 25 outstanding Asians for being most moderate and pragmatic voice for peace in Jammu and Kashmir, has also come down heavily on the fundamentalist elements saying ''I donít see a balance between Islam and modernisation anywhere.'' The Mirwaiz is the second Hurriyat leader who has comedown heavily on Pakistani militant groups mainly comprising Afghan mercenaries. Earlier, another senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone had stated that foreign mercenaries had no role to play when the Kashmir issue came up for resolution. The out- spoken attitude of the Mirwaiz was attributed by the magazine to his being beholden to no one except his god and his people. The magazine said that diplomats and militants alike have found themselves able to accept his no-nonsense attitude, backed by his unquestioned credentials as the true voice of Kashmir. ''Some people say we must join with Pakistan, other that we must have independence. I am not going to set any target that another side can dismiss outright. I will go for any solution that restores the dignity,'' the Mirwaiz was quoted by the magazine. The Mirwaiz, who is the religious head of Muslims in Kashmir, is presently facing rough weather for his participation in the Sharjah meeting with chairman of Pakistan''s Kashmir council Sardar Abdul Qayoom along with another senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone. The magazine also quotes a western diplomat as saying ''you have got to worry for him...Everytime we meet, I am just relieved that he is still there.'' The Mirwaiz, who has a passion for computers, remembers his father Mirwaiz Farooq''s death in may 1990 when he had gone to his office at ''Mirwaiz Manzil'' but only to turn away when he heard the familiar sound of religious discussions behind the door which was followed by gun shots. ''He was lying down...There was blood, there were wounds..The doctors did their best, but.......,'' the Mirwaiz recalled. ''People (at the funeral) were coming to me and saying(that) are you ready to take over (as the new Mirwaiz),'' grief stricken Farooq, who was suddenly facing an inheritance that he barely understood, recalled. A few days later, ignoring his distraught mother''s pleas, he hesitantly accepted his birthright as the 15th Mirwaiz of Kashmir and later in 1993 united 23 separatist and militant groups in the Hurriyat Conference.


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