December 2003 News

JKNLF calls for opening of all natural routes: Independent Kashmir demanded

15 December 2003
The Dawn
Tariq Naqash

MIRPUR: The Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front (JKNLF) has demanded of India and Pakistan to open all the natural routes linking occupied Kashmir with Azad Kashmir to facilitate the divided Kashmiri families. It also urged both countries to withdraw their troops from the disputed Himalayan region to let it emerge as an independent state. The demands came through a declaration which the pro- independence party issued at the conclusion of its two- day 'Integrity of Kashmir Convention' here on Sunday. At the convention, party's office-bearers for the next three years were also elected who included among others Shaukat Maqbool Butt as president and Arif Shahid as secretary-general. Shaukat Maqbool is the son of Maqbool Butt Shaheed, the pioneer of Kashmir freedom movement who was hanged by the Indian government on Feb 11, 1984. 'India and Pakistan should open all natural routes between the two parts of Kashmir, mainly linking Srinagar with Muzaffarabad, Kargil with Skardu, Jammu with Bhimber and Rajouri with Khoiratta,' the declaration said. It also called upon both countries to 'take the confidence building measures and other peace initiatives to their logical end. They should peacefully initiate steps for emergence of Kashmir as an independent state.' The declaration called for amendment in the interim constitution of Azad Kashmir to lift 'sanctions on nationalist organizations so that the people affiliated with them could take part in state assembly elections and get government jobs'. 'Pakistan should also establish political and administrative relationship between Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and give all political, social rights to its residents,' it said. It further said that the State Subject rules should also be enforced in Gilgit-Baltistan 'lest the residents of those might not turn into minority in their own land'. The Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front declaration criticized Mangla Dam extension project, saying it should be abandoned for being 'against the interests of the Kashmiris'. Later, some 200 JKNLF activists, led by Mr Maqbool, staged a rally from the venue of the convention to Shaheed Chowk. 'We will snatch freedom on both sides of Kashmir,' shouted the emotionally charged activists, who were holding party flags and banners, one of which read 'Kashmir is for (the) Kashmiris.' 'When people will meet (each other) the lands will also abridge,' another banner read, referring to the proposed travelling of Kashmiris between the two parts of their divided state.


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