June 2005 News

Former JKLF Chief Dismisses Charges Against Sh. Rashid

30 June 2005
Associated Press of Pakistan

Srinagar: Former chief of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Javed Mir has dismissed as baseless the allegations that Federal Minister for Information Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had provided training in use of arms to Kashmiris at his farmhouse in Rawalpindi. 'These allegations against Sh. Rashid Ahmad are all rubbish and baseless. I never found Sheikh's involvement in any such activity,' Mir, who headed JKLF till 1994, told Greater Kashmir Newspaper in an interview on Wednesday. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, he said, only provided shelter to the Kashmiris who had been 'brought on roads' after the death of former Pakistani President General Zia-ul-Haq. The controversy surrounding Sheikh Rashid, a native Kashmiri, arose when JKLF chairman Yasin Malik during his recent trip to Pakistan praised him for 'lifting us from roads afterBenazir Bhutto ditched Kashmiris'. The remarks were misquoted and Malik himself denied what was wrongly attributed to him. The Indian government subsequently rejected Sheikh Rashid's application for a permit to travel to occupied Kashmir on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus. As Benazir took over the reigns in Pakistan, the Kashmiris numbering thousands, according to Javed Mir, were thrown out of the refugee camps. 'The youth, particularly belonging to JKLF, were in a dilemma; all channels were blocked and nobody was willing to support us, and back-home in the Valley, people were braving the brutalities of Jagmohan regime,' Mir said. It was at this critical juncture that Sheikh Rashid, Mir said, came like a 'messiah for shelter-less Kashmiris.' Mir's comments come a few days after Abdul Ahad Waza, a close aide of Ghulam Nabi Bhat, brother of JKLF founder Maqbool Bhat, claimed that Sheikh Rashid's farmhouse was used as a 'safehouse by Kashmiri militants' in early '90s. But, Waza's remarks, Mir said, were 'far from truth.' Recalling his first meeting with Sheikh Rashid, Mir said he met him in August 1990 soon after the arrest of JKLF chief Yasin Malik. 'As I arrived in Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid invited me and (the then JKLF chairman) Amanullah Khan to his Lal Haveli in Rawalpindi. We highlighted the plight of Kashmiri refugees who had been living from hand-to-mouth. Their plight had earned them the sobriquet 'JKLF ki pehchan, phatey kapdey aur nylon chappal (JKLF's identity-torn clothes and nylon slippers).' 'There was no mention of so-called arms training in Sheikh Rashid's farmhouse,' Mir said adding 'There's no doubt that he supported us, but the support came in the form of clothing, bedding, ration supply, etc.' Mir said he found Sheikh out there to help Kashmiris 'but of course not with guns and grenades.' 'I pity the politicians who tarnish the image of Sheikh Rashid for their political ends,' Mir continued. 'It's unfortunate that people like (former Pakistan Army Chief) Gen Mirza Aslam Beg are leveling baseless charges against Sheikh Rashid.' Mir advised them not to issue such statements which are not good for the ongoing peace process undertaken by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. 'Secondly, our movement has entered a decisive phase. We've to be vigilant.'


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