May 2003 News

Sikandar supports Kashmir's division

18 May 2003
The Dawn
Our Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan on Sunday supported the division of Kashmir on communal basis, with Muslim majority areas joining Pakistan and the rest remaining with India. However, talking to newsmen at Kashmir House, he strongly opposed the idea of an independent Kashmir saying a tiny state surrounded by India, China and Pakistan could neither defend itself nor guarantee its sovereignty and independence. He endorsed the 'Chenab formula' for the division of Kashmir as according to him it provided a natural distribution of Muslim and Hindu populations.Replying to questions about his tussle with AJK President Mohammad Anwar Khan, he termed it an unconstitutional attempt to deprive him of his constitutional powers. He welcomed the confidence building measures Islamabad and New Delhi had taken to pave the way for talks on all issues, including Kashmir.Mr Hayat said 'Over the years it has been established that India cannot keep the Muslim population of Kashmir subjugated even by deploying 700,000 troops and Pakistan on the other hand cannot win its Kashmir case politically because of its failure to mobilize international opinion on the issue.' He said the 14-year-long armed struggle by the people of Kashmir, in which they lost more then 75,000 lives, had succeeded in attracting the attention of the world community and, therefore, it was trying to find a solution to the conflict. He said it was high time for all the players to sit together and resolve the dispute on the basis of justice. He said those who sought justice for themselves ought to be ready to dispense justice to other parties in the conflict. Responding to a question, he said India could live without Kashmir but Pakistan could not because of its economic and moral stakes in the disputed territory. He supported the idea of approaching the talks in a spirit of give and take and said every party to the conflict would need to save face to be able to sell to its people the agreed solution which would certainly not be in keeping with the respective national aspirations built over 56 years. Replying to a query, he admitted that a leadership crisis could emerge when the Kashmiri people were called in tripartite talks with India and Pakistan. He proposed that the representatives of the governments and oppositions of AJK and occupied Kashmir, including the All Parties Hurriyet Conference, would have to be given representation. He said the acceptance of the Line of Control as the permanent border was neither practical nor acceptable. He proposed that the Muslim majority areas of the Valley, Jammu, Rajori and Laddakh with the Northern Areas could be annexed with Pakistan while leaving the rest with India. He said recent statements by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee reflected a desire on his part to resolve the issues. He said India and Pakistan had taken upon themselves the responsibility of defending the territories under their control leaving little choice for the people of Kashmir. The AJK, he said, maintained 30 platoons of Azad Kashmir Regulars force till 1968-69. He said he was under pressure from Islamabad to share power with the AJK president but the powers of the offices were laid down in the constitution which could only be changed by the state assembly.


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