May 2005 News

Mirwaiz Says Ready To Step Down To Achieve Hurriyat Unity

10 May 2005
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq on Monday said he was willing to step down from the post of chairman provided leader of the rival faction Syed Ali Shah Geelani does the same and called upon individual factions to restore the erstwhile structure of the conglomerate. A day after Pakistan asked both the Hurriyat factions to unite, Mirwaiz said here, 'I am ready to resign as the chairman of the Hurriyat provided Geelani does the same. The individual factions have to be dissolved and the erstwhile structure of the Hurriyat restored'. Hurriyat is ready to go to any extent if unity is based on principles for achieving the goal, he said at the end of the meeting of the executive committee. 'People want the separatists to unite to take the movement to its logical conclusion. We had intensified the unification efforts over the past 15 to 20 days but nothing substantial has come up so far,' he said. Mirwaiz said the parties who had stayed outside the fold of the either faction of Hurriyat Conference following the split in 2003 should also join the unified Hurriyat in the larger interests of the people of the state. 'Unity cannot be achieved by issuing statements or forming committees. All of us will have to sit together and discuss the ways and means of forming a united platform. 'If the response from Geelani and his faction is positive, we will try to convene such a meeting as early as next week. Issues like new structure of the executive, general council and working committee can also be debated in case there are new suggestions,' he added. Pakistan on Monday asked the moderate and the hardline factions of the Hurriyat conference to unite, saying that a solution to the Kashmir issue was 'nearer than ever before'. Mirwaiz also lamented the mushrooming of new separatist political parties in the state. 'It is unfortunate that instead of uniting we have new parties coming up every now and then which has created confusion among the masses. Such parties are encouraged to merge themselves with bigger groups with ideological similarities,' he said. On the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan, Mirwaiz said Hurriyat Conference not only supports it but also feels it should be strengthened. Statements from New Delhi and Islamabad have been encouraging but the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir is contrary to them. Nearly 150 persons were killed in the last month, he stated. 'If the Government of India were serious about resolving Kashmir issue, the contradictions have to be removed'. 'Custodial killings, arrests and other human rights violations have to be stopped. The goodwill atmosphere that has been generated over the past one year should not be vitiated again,' he said. 'Time has come when Kashmiris have to be included in the dialogue process. I would suggest that the Indo-Pak peace process should be renamed as resolution process,' he added. Senior Hurriyat leaders Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Mohammad Abbas Ansari and Bilal Gani Lone were also present the press conference. Geelani was out of the city and could not be reached for comments on the latest move.


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