July 2003 News

Armed struggle to intensify if Kashmiris ignored: Kashmiri leader

2 July 2003
News Network International

ISLAMABAD: A Kashmiri leader on Wednesday cautioned that any bid to ignore Kashmiris in the Pakistan-India parleys would only serve to intensify the ongoing-armed struggle. 'Islamabad and New Delhi must not ignore the voice of Kashmiris when they sit down for talks on the Kashmir issue as it will give further impetus to the struggle,' he said in an interview with official Iranian news agency in Islamabad. Shaukat Ali Shah, who is also chairman of Kashmir's Ulema and Mashaikh Council, said that the Kashmiris are a key party to the Kashmir dispute and could in no way be overlooked when trying to find a fair solution to the problem. He welcomed recent positive developments between Islamabad and New Delhi, saying it appeared both countries were bracing for a serious and time-bound dialogue on the issue of Kashmir. Both nuclear-armed countries have fought three wars since their independence in 1947. Two of the wars were fought on Kashmir, a disputed territory between the two nations. 'If both nations bridge their differences and agree to a just solution to the Kashmir quagmire, South Asia will progress in its strides toward sustainable development to rid humanity of deep-rooted poverty and ignorance,' he contended. 'New Delhi will have access to the Central Asian Republics and the Middle East via Pakistan once the major imbroglio was settled,' he said, urging early resumption of dialogue between the two countries. Asked about the possible options available to the people of Kashmir, he said that first the Kashmiris must be provided a pressure and tension-free atmosphere. 'Kashmiris must be at liberty to breathe in a free environment,' he asserted. He also demanded that the Indian government withdraw its forces from the part of Kashmir under its control in order to give a positive message to the Kashmiris, Pakistan and the world community at large. The analyst, moreover, maintained that the Kashmiris would like to be part of Pakistan in view of their commonalties in religion, culture, geography and history. To a question, he said that the US apparently wanted to announce a roadmap for Kashmir. However, he stressed that the map should be based on ground realities in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiris. The analyst believes that a just Kashmir solution would also indirectly serve American interests in the region. However, he did not elaborate on his contention. foot();


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