June 2005 News

Kashmiri Separatist Group Unites

9 June 2005

Islamabad: Two factions of a leading Kashmiri separatist group have decided to re-unite after nearly 10 years. The Jammu-Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) says the move is aimed at pressing for the independence of the disputed state. At the moment, the JKLF is divided into two groups based in Indian and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Moderate Kashmiri separatist leaders have been visiting Pakistan, the first time India has allowed them to do so. The JKLF was once regarded as a formidable militant force in Indian-administered Kashmir - it was the first group to take up arms against Indian rule in 1988. But it split in 1995 when Yasin Malik, the head of the group in Indian- administered Kashmir, announced that the JKLF would give up violence. Amanullah Khan, who had been the overall head of the pro- independence group, disassociated himself from the decision, which led to the creation of two factions. Meeting The decision to revive the original group was taken at a meeting between Mr Khan and Mr Malik, who is a member of the separatist team visiting Pakistan. The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad says the visit has provided an opportunity to the leaders of both JKLF factions to resolve their differences. Following an hour-long meeting between Amanullah Khan and Yasin Malik in Rawalpindi, they announced the merger of their factions. A seven-member committee headed by Mr Malik's nominee, Dr Farooq Haider, will re-work the structure and policy objectives of the organisation. Pressure Over the years, the JKLF was pushed into the background by other more powerful groups with allegiance to Pakistan and Islamist groups. Since then, the Yasin Malik faction has remained a member of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, the main separatist alliance in Indian-administered Kashmir. Mr Khan's faction, based in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, operated independently. But our correspondent says that with the revival of some support in recent years for an independent Kashmir, pressure started to build on both the faction leaders to reunite.


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