December 2003 News

Benazir 'supports' Kashmir struggle

16 December 2003
The Dawn
Our Staff Reporter

LAHORE: The PPP said on Tuesday that its chairperson Benazir Bhutto supported the freedom movement going on in the occupied Kashmir and regarded the APHC as a forum working for the rights of Kashmiri people. PPP Federal Council secretary-general Khalid Kharal took exception to Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed's reported remarks that the twice-elected former prime minister was visiting New Delhi to fail the SAARC summit to be held in Islamabad early next month. The PPP leader also alleged that the minister had attributed certain comments to Ms Bhutto which she had never made. Clarifying PPP's point of view at a news conference, Mr Kharal said Ms Bhutto wanted the Kashmir dispute settled according to the aspirations of Kashmiri people. The former premier, he said, wanted Kashmiris to be part of the Indo-Pakistan dialogue on the Kashmir issue. The PPP, Mr Kharal said, believed that the freedom movement in occupied Kashmir was indigenous and the presence of some 600,000 Indian troops there was violative of the human rights of the Kashmiri people. He recalled that the PPP had repeatedly urged the world community to pressure India to withdraw its occupation forces. He denied reports which quoted Ms Bhutto as saying that relations between Pakistan and India should not be made hostage to the Kashmir dispute. Foreign Liaison Committee chief Munir Ahmed Khan said on the occasion that the former prime minister wanted Pakistan to have good relations with India and all other neighbouring states and was playing her role for the purpose. According to him, the government would be doing great national service by allowing former premiers Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif to return to Pakistan before the SAARC summit and affording them an opportunity to use their capabilities to promote cooperation among the seven bloc members. About the purpose of Ms Bhutto's visit to New Delhi, Mr Kharal said the PPP chairperson was a scholarly figure who was invited by a paper there to address a seminar. Mr Kharal clarified that Ms Bhutto had not used the word 'militants' for freedom fighters.


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