'Inshallah Kashmir Will See Peace This Year'
31 December 2003
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Standing against the backdrop of the idyllic Dal Lake, Hurriyat Conference Chairman Maulvi Abbas Ansari points above-to the migratory birds who sail against the water currents. That's who Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and President Pervez Musharraf have to be like, he says. In a New Year message to the two, as they head for the Saarc summit, Ansari urges them to emulate the birds, rise above national prejudices, shun rigidity and resolve to make 2004 memorable to the people of India, Pakistan and the two ruptured Kashmirs. 'We all are lucky that Vajpayee and Musharraf, two statesmen in their own right, are holding fort in their respective countries. We should light a candle in church that it's not Bal Thackeray and Qazi Hussain. They would have pressed the nuclear button and annihilated people of the three parties,' he says, throwing his arms up in prayer. According to him, a realistic solution is 'greater greater autonomy' from India and Pakistan for both Kashmirs. 'To my mind, this will be a feasible, good and realistic solution. People of the two Kashmirs should not be caged, they should be allowed to travel through the Uri-Muzaffarabad roads.' If people from the two sides were allowed to meet, the Army could go back to the barracks, Ansari feels. 'A single currency should work, and then the two arch rivals should give Kashmiris some kind of guarantee ensuring they live their lives unhindered,' he says. At the same time, the Hurriyat Chairman adds, they are open to suggestions, any formula that can end the agony of the people. 'We are not shying away from the table. We will discuss each and everything and present our viewpoint,' he pleads. Ansari gives the example of the two Germanys, which had broken the Berlin wall. 'Are not our people enjoying the fruits of the Id ceasefire on the Line of Control?' he notes. 'People of India and Pakistan are one,' Ansari adds. 'Why this enmity? Let 2004 be the year of friendship between the two...This golden opportunity of brotherhood should not be lost.' All their hopes, he adds, rest on Saarc. 'Inshallah, the wish of the people of India, Pakisan, Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu will be realised this year. 2004 belongs to all of these parties. Peace will last forever. It is in the interest of all of us.'