Pakistan damaged Kashmir struggle, says Salahuddin
23 April 2006
The Daily Times
Islamabad: The commander of Kashmir’s largest militant group said on Sunday Pakistan had caused “irreparable damage” to the Kashmiri fighters’ cause by pursuing peace without winning more concessions from India. Sayed Salahuddin, the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen and chairman of the United Jihad Council grouping a dozen Kashmiri militant organisations, staged a protest last month over Pakistan’s strategy in the peace process begun in early 2004. “One-sided pragmatism and confidence building measures, which are not reciprocated by the Indian side, have caused irreparable damage to the ongoing freedom struggle in the (Kashmir) Valley,” said Salahuddin, in an e-mail response to Reuters. The burly, bearded veteran of 17-year-old insurgency in Indian-held Kashmir said Kashmiri fighters were feeling abandoned. “It has created an impression that Pakistan had now become exhausted in extending support to the Kashmir cause,” he said, calling for “substantial support” for the movement to continue. India has long accused Pakistan of stoking insurgency in its part of Kashmir by arming and abetting militants. Pakistan denies the charge and says the militancy was sparked by human right abuses by India in the Muslim-majority state. US President George W Bush, according to diplomats, is believed to have urged President Pervez Musharraf to do more to halt cross-border militancy in both Afghanistan and Indian-held Kashmir during a visit to Islamabad in early March. Days after Bush’s visit, Salahuddin’s aides told Reuters that Pakistan had told the Hizb’s leadership to stop cross- border infiltration, which usually picks up with the onset of spring. According diplomats in Islamabad, Hizb was also told that funding, something Pakistan denies extending, was being cut back. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is clearly more satisfied with Pakistan’s efforts, and there is a froth of expectation that the two sides could be close to an agreement to de-militarise the Siachen Glacier, a high-altitude battlefield they have fought over since the mid-1980s.