Kashmir Leader Says Fails To Unite Rebel Alliance
3 August 2004
Srinagar: A moderate Kashmiri separatist leader said on Tuesday he had failed in an attempt to unite separatist factions, a setback in efforts to bring a united separatist group to the negotiating table with India. 'We tried our best in our efforts to forge unity among the two Hurriyat factions, but we failed,' senior separatist leader Mohammad Yasin Malik told a news conference in the summer capital of Indian Kashmir. Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, split last year between moderates and hardliners. The Hurriyat hardliners, who are backed by armed Muslim militants fighting New Delhi's rule over the mountainous territory, are opposed to direct talks with the Indian government that do not include Pakistan, which disputes Indian rule. They broke away from the Hurriyat last June after moderate members agreed to bilateral discussions with New Delhi to end the 15-year-old rebellion. Malik, chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and other senior leaders including Shabir Shah last set up group which aimed to reunite the Hurriyat's warning factions. 'I apologise (for the lack of unity) to the war-torn people of Kashmir who have offered great sacrifices for freedom,' Malik said. 'They (the factions) don't understand the split in Hurriyat is helping India,' Malik said. New Delhi has held two rounds of talks with the moderate faction of Hurriyat since January. India's new Congress-led coalition government, which came to power in May, has vowed to continue the process and has called separatist leaders for a third round in July. The continued divisions in the separatist ranks come as India and Pakistan push forward with peace talks that include Kashmir, the cause of two of three wars between the two nuclear rivals. Both India and Pakistan control portions of the Himalayan territory. The rebellion against Indian rule in the Indian part has killed about 40,000 people since 1989.