Mufti Welcomes Musharraf's Proposal
21 May 2005
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today welcomed Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's latest proposal of 'maximum self-governance' as a step in the right direction even as the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference said it was no 'permanent solution' to the Kashmir issue. The Hurriyat moderates chose a guarded response, saying they would be flexible in their approach for a 'durable solution' and give their reaction in a day or two. Sayeed told reporters here that 'the borders have to be soft to enable people-to-people contact'. The Chief Minister said Musharraf's suggestion of autonomy was a step in the right direction and would benefit the people on both sides of the LoC. However, he said peace was pre-requisite for the success of the peace process. 'Violence has to come to an end,' he added. The leader of the hardline faction of Hurriyat, Sayeed Ali Shah Geelani rejected the offer outright, saying 'maximum self governance is not a permanent solution to Kashmir issue'. 'No solution that is not in accordance with wishes and aspirations of people of J&K would be acceptable,' he told Geelani said Kashmir was not a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan which the two countries could decide without taking state's representatives into confidence. Whereas the moderate faction of Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was guarded in its response. 'We have been flexible in our approach to finding a durable solution to Kashmir. Hurriyat will meet and discuss the latest proposal and come up with a reaction in a day or two,' former chairman of Hurriyat Conference Abdul Gani Bhat said. Bhat said everyone involved in Kashmir had to demonstrate a deeper sense of responsibility and understanding by showing flexibility and accomodation of other views while arriving at a solution. 'We are realistic down to earth and ready to talk with both India and Pakistan and play our role in ending the imbroglio that has dogged the region for too long,' he said. Meanwhile, separatist leader and president of J&K Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) Shabir Ahmad Shah said he would seek the masses' opinion on the issue and organise district-level debates in the state for the purpose. 'The proposed debates would be held at all the 14 districts of the state from May 25 to enlist the opinion of the people of all shades and opinions irrespective of their ideology and political affiliation in a true spirit of democracy,' he told PTI. Shah said the process of debates would be followed by state-wide conferences in which people from all walks of life would be invited to discuss the issue so that a unanimous viewpoint of the people of state representing all regions, races, cultures, religions and political hues would emerge. 'This viewpoint would be presented before India and Pakistan, which will pave the way for tripartite talks,' he said.