September 2002 News

Mirwaiz invites OIC chief to J&K

14 September 2002
The Asian Age
Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar: The chief cleric of Kashmir, Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, has invited the Organisation of Islamic Conference Secretary-General, Dr Abdelouahed Belkeziz, to visit Kashmir for making an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. ''Kashmir is an issue concerning the Muslim Ummah (nation) and you must visit us to know what is happening on the ground,'' the Mirwaiz told the Secretary General while inviting him in New York on behalf of the Hurriyat Conference. The mirwaiz, who is also the founder president of the 21-member conglomerate of separatist parties, is in New York at the head of a Kashmiri delegation on the sidelines of the UNGA. A fax received by this newspaper in Srinagar said the OIC chief gladly accepted the invitation in principle. The fax said that the Kashmiri leader was accompanied by the president of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gen. Mohammed Anwar Khan (Retd), former prime minister of the territory Sultan Mehmood Chaudhry, Kashmiri expatriate Ghulam Nabi Fai, executive director, Kashmiri American Council, and Faiz Naqashbandi, who represents the ''Azad Kashmir'' chapter of the Hurriyat. The delegation members apprised Dr Belkeziz of the latest situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He acknowledged ''the disputed question of Kashmir concerns not only the Muslim Ummah but also the whole world owing to its impact on international peace and security.'' The statement quotes Dr Belkeziz as saying that it is on the basis of the analysis that his organisation has been exerting sincere efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute. Dr Belkeziz also told the delegation that he is following with close interest the evolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute as well as its grave consequences for relations between India and Pakistan. He told the mirwaiz and his colleagues that following the escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan in May this year he issued a press statement in which ''I deeply deplored the deterioration of the situation between the two countries to such a degree that disastrous consequences could ensue.'' Dr Belkeziz expressed total readiness to use his good offices to ease tensions and help settle the outstanding issue between India and Pakistan. Earlier, while addressing the OICís contact group on Kashmir, the mirwaiz acknowledged the efforts the US is making to facilitate a purposeful dialogue between India and Pakistan and, in that context, to maintain contact with the Hurriyat. ''We place trust in the statesmanship of Secretary Powell that he will not continence any attempt to ignore the wishes of the people of Kashmir and bypass the expression of those wishes,'' he said.


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