February 2005 News

Kashmir resistance not laying down arms: Qayyum

6 February 2005
The Daily Times

Washington DC: Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, speaking at an event on Saturday to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day, declared that while the non-Kashmiri segment of the resistance in Kashmir might stop being a factor, the battle- hardened Kashmiri fighters in combat against Indian rule will not lay down their arms.However, he added, the situation could change if there was a 'clear road map' for the settlement of the dispute, interim steps were taken and new confidence-building measures implemented. Sardar Qayyum, who came here at the invitation of a group called Faith-based Reconciliation for the annual National Prayer Breakfast held here last week, was addressing a group of Pakistanis, Americans and Kashmiris at the offices of the Pakistani- American Liaison Committee, a lobbying group headed by Faiz Rehman, founder and former editor of the Los Angeles-based fortnightly, Pakistan Link.The Kashmiri leader said the cause of Kashmir had not been projected abroad as it deserved to be projected. He dealt with a number of Indian arguments used to justify New Delhi's occupation of the state, pointing out that failure to counter them had caused serious misperceptions about Kashmir and the Kashmiri struggle to develop. Citing an example, he said the Indian argument that the future of Indian secularism was linked to Kashmir and that there were more Muslims in India than there were in Pakistan, had no validity. However, if such arguments were not effectively repudiated, it was only to be expected that they would be believed. He said he wished the Pakistani government had taken greater pains to organise and launch a proper international campaign for the projection of the Kashmiri struggle, a struggle that has stood the test of time and a legitimate attempt by a people to win the right of self-determination.Sardar Qayyum said that while at present an understanding exists between President Bush and President Musharraf, it should be remembered that situations change and Pakistan, therefore, should take advantage of its present relationship with the United States in favour of the Kashmir cause. 'Who knows, the situation may change tomorrow. The opportunity that has come Pakistan's way should be fully utilised,' he added. He also spoke about the challenge facing Islam and Muslims today. Islam, he stated, was not another name for cruelty, killing and destruction. The true Muslim identity must be established because the present image of Muslims in the world was false and unrelated to Islam and the Quranic teachings. He quoted verses from the Quran to make the point that Islam stressed humanism. One of the verses extolled the value of actions that worked for the benefit of all of humanity. The point to note, he explained, was the emphasis the Quran places on humanity and humanism. That being so, how could anything contrary to that be associated with Islam, as was being done, he asked. He said in his view globalisation should mean coexistence of all people of the world, regardless of their religion, race or country.To a question about the current state of the India-Pakistan dialogue, Sardar Qayyum said that while Atal Behari Vajpayee had the authority and the position to take 'hard decisions,' the present government in New Delhi was the 'weakest' India had known and he was doubtful it would be in a position to bring about a settlement of the Kashmir issue. India, he feared, had gone back to its old policy on Kashmir and only through fresh and meaningful confidence-building measures could any progress by expected or hoped for. He was of the view that Pakistan should approach the international community so that it is left in no doubt about the change that has occurred in the Indian position. In reply to another question, he said that the bus service between the two parts of Kashmir was a good idea but agreed that there were very few families left to be reunited. It was almost three generations since the great divide of 1947, he added. He rejected a proposal now in the air that family reunions should take place behind barbed wire at five different points along the Line of Control. He reiterated his decade-old demand that the leaders of Indian-held Kashmir and Azad Kashmir meet in India or Pakistan or a third country. While Pakistan supports the idea, he said, India is not willing to go along, which, he added, remains a pity. He said the fact is that India does not recognise Kashmiris as a party to the Kashmir dispute.Earlier, two young Kashmiris, Usman Ashai and Hyder Syed, who recently visited Indian-held Kashmir, made a slide presentation that showed, apart from the breathtaking beauty of the fabled Vale of Kashmir, the intimidating presence at every street corner of heavily-armed Indian army soldiers.


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