November 2005 News

Hurriyat Dove Mirwaiz Farooq Unveils Kashmir Roadmap

29 November 2005
The Indian Express

Srinagar: Close on the heels of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's proposal for self-governance for Kashmir, the Chairman of the moderate Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has unveiled a new Kashmir roadmap which envisages demilitarisation by both India and Pakistan, ceasefire by militants and consensus between all shades of Kashmir opinion for a negotiated settlement. Mirwaiz also indicates Hurriyat participation in the elections if situation so demands. The roadmap outlined in a speech delivered by Mirwaiz at a closed door session with a delegation of 15 US Congressmen yesterday and including attendees like National Conference president Omar Abdullah calls for a radical departure from the 'old and hackneyed theories' that have been tried to no avail. 'We need a serious departure from the road overused to the one less travelled,' Mirwaiz says and goes on to advocate the demilitarisation of Kashmir on both sides - this time under NATO supervision - for the creation of a conducive atmosphere for generating new thoughts over Kashmir. US Congressmen led by lawmaker Dan Burton confabulated with Omar and Mirwaiz at the official residence of US Charge de Affairs Robert Blake. Although invited, People's Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti chose not to attend the talks. The new Hurriyat roadmap is a departure not only from Musharraf's self-governance proposal but also from Mirwaiz's own free 'United States of Kashmir' with a secular constitution. The Hurriyat Chairman calls for harnessing the opportunities thrown up by the October 8 earthquake and hence the need for a 'radical new thinking'. As a first step, he wants to take the debate on Kashmir away from terrorism and human rights. 'The new thinking could be struck if efforts were made to focus on the Kashmir issue beyond the rhetorical churning on human rights and terrorism,' he says. Mirwaiz even holds an assurance that in case India demilitarizes in Kashmir, Hurriyat would get the militants in line. 'After the region is demilitarized, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference would make the armed fighters hold their actions and get them along to strengthen the peace process,' says Mirwaiz. Mirwaiz's assurance on this count is lent further credence by his colleague Naeem Ahmad Khan, who asserts that militants will certainly listen if Hurriyat talks to them. 'Take it on my authority that we will get the militants to drop the gun once things start moving,' Naeem Khan told The Indian Express. Kashmir is witnessing a tremendous debate centred around the demilitarization, participated even by the hawkish group of Hurriyat led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. 'The Kashmir issue could only be resolved by demilitarizing both parts of the disputed region,' Geelani says. 'By implementing the proposal, Kashmiris can determine their fate in a free atmosphere.' Former chief minister Farooq Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti are already on record pledging their respective support for the idea of self-governance in Kashmir. And with Mirwaiz discussing his new roadmap with US Congressmen in a closed-door session and reportedly being assured American backing for his plan, the debate on the proposals is becoming more earnest. The 90-minute session, sources say, debated in detail the fresh proposals of 'demilitarization' and 'self-rule.'


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