Hurriyat Favours Division Of Kashmir On Geographical Grounds
9 June 2005
The Daily Excelsior
Islamabad: Endorsing Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's assertion that religion cannot be the basis for resolving Kashmir issue, moderate Hurriyat faction has said it favoured division of Kashmir on 'geographical grounds' to settle the problem. 'We want Kashmir to be divided on geographical grounds. We don't want Kashmir to lose its identity and integration. We don't want to further separate Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims,' Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said in an interview to 'Daily Times' newspaper. Farooq is currently on a visit to Pakistan along with six other members of the conglomerate, JKLF leader Yasin Malik and a representative of another Kashmiri separatist leader Shabbir Shah. They had met Musharraf two days ago. Last month, Musharraf told a conference of South Asian Parliamentarians here that 'we do understand the Indian sensitivities of their secular credentials therefore it (solution to Kashmir issue) cannot be on any religious basis. 'Therefore it should on a people basis and on regional basis. To identify a region, allow maximum self governance to the people, de-militarise and take some actions to make border irrelevant.' Making it clear that the amalgam did not want a resolution that would separate Kashmir's regions, Farooq said the Hurriyat leaders, however, have sought more time from Musharraf to think over his proposal of demilitarising Kashmir after dividing it into seven separate regions. 'It is not necessary for us to agree to everything proposed by President Musharraf, but we support his approach. We had some ideas on resolving Kashmir and we discussed them with him,' he said. Farooq, who told a press conference yesterday that UN resolutions on Kashmir have failed to resolve the issue and the time has come to explore other options, said the Hurriyat leaders made it clear to Musharraf that they would never accept a status quo on Kashmir or the Line of Control (LoC) as a permanent border. Asked whether a majority of Kashmiris wanted an affiliation with Pakistan, he said his party wished for the unification of Kashmir and Pakistan. 'But you have to be careful because the Indian Government will never like a solution where it has to totally compromise on Kashmir,' he told the paper. About India's unwillingness to have tripartite talks on Kashmir, Farooq said the Indian Government knew that its position would 'weaken if Kashmir and Pakistan came together on the same negotiation table.' Asked whether excluding 'Jihadis' would negatively impact the dialogue process, he said if Kashmiris wanted to play an active role in resolving the issue, they must rise above party politics. About hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who had turned down Pakistan's invitation to visit the country and PoK, and militant group Hizbul Mujahideen's chief Syed Salahuddin, he said people unwilling to cooperate with Hurriyat would be left behind. Meanwhile, the visiting separatist leaders flew to Karachi from here and met various political leaders besides paying homage at the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Farooq charged Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies with dividing the Hurriyat Conference between moderates led by him and hardliners headed by Geelani. 'Yes, this is a fact and I will not deny it. But I don't hold the intelligence agencies solely responsible for that. APHC (All Parties Hurriyat Conference) leaders are equally responsible for the recent rift in the organisation,' he told the newspaper. Claiming that Pakistan had followed policies of favouritism by promoting one Kashmiri group and later another, he said 'that chapter of history' would also be brought before the concerned Pakistani officials. Speaking to reporters on their arrival at Karachi after talks with the leadership in Islamabad, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said they had been highlighting the demand of including Kashmiris in Indo-Pak talks. He described his talks with Pakistani leadership as 'fruitful and constructive', saying that the visit has enabled the APHC to interact closely with people from all sections of society. The delegation had held meetings with President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri and leaders of various political parties. The APHC delegation was received by the Chief Minister of Sindh province Arbab Ghulam Rahim and other provincial Government Ministers.