Mirwaiz suggests 'Rahdari' system
9 December 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Dubai: Acting chairman of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has suggested the pre-1953 ‘Rahdari’ system, under which a letter from the local District Commissioner is recognised as a travel document, to resolve the stalemate over resumption of bus services between India and Pakistan. Terming the resumption of the bus link between the two neighbours as the 'biggest step', he said both countries should accept the system that was in place between the two countries till 1953, allowing travel between the two countries. This would solve the problem about the documents to be carried by the passengers, he told Gulf news in a recent interview. Officials from the two countries met in New Delhi on December seven and eight to work out modalities of restarting the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad transport link. However, the talks concluded without agreement yesterday as the two sides failed to resolve the contentious issue of the documents to be carried by passengers. India has proposed entry permits along with passports for the passengers of the bus service. However, Pakistan favours 'no passport, no visa' but only an identify card for the passengers. Mr Farooq said his definition of ‘azadi’ did not mean Independence but the aspiration of the people of Jammu and Kashmir to be masters of their own fate. 'People want independence to be able to live their life with dignity and honour, that is azadi,' the Hurriyat Conference leader said. He alleged that even after 57 years, Kashmiris were being dictated to by New Delhi. He opposed the division of the Jammu and Kashmir along religious and ethnic lines. 'We are one people. Jammu is part of Kashmir, as is Ladakh. It makes us the unique nation that we are,' said Mr Farooq, who also heads the Awami Action Committee, one of the member groups of the Hurriyat. Supporting the step-by-step dialogue process between India and Pakistan, he said, 'solutions will emerge from the process, let’s not put the cart before the horse.' The Mirwaiz said Pakistan had given up the plebiscite option and accepted the northern areas, Gilgit and Baltistan as part of Kashmir, but India’s stance still remained 'vague' with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying he was willing to talk to all sides. He asserted that the Kashmiris were Central to the dialogue process and without their inclusion in it there could be no peace.