August 2006 News

Self-rule only possible if Kashmir demilitarised

18 August 2006
The Daily Times

Srinagar: A top Kashmiri militant leader said in comments published on Friday that self-rule as a solution to the Kashmir imbroglio was a non- starter unless both India and Pakistan demilitarised their respective zones of the disputed territory. Referring to the self- rule proposal floated by President General Pervez Musharraf and supported by moderate Kashmiri separatists and a few pro-India Kashmiri leaders, Hizbul Mujahideen supreme commander Syed Salahudin said: The self-rule proposal (cannot) be implemented unless India and Pakistan withdraw troops from both parts of Kashmir. We will encourage any move that will lead to withdrawal of troops from both parts of Kashmir, he said during a telephone interview with local news agency KNS, which was later published in newspapers across Kashmir. Once there will be complete withdrawal of troops and Kashmiris will take over the governance, then it will be self-rule, said Salahudin, who is based in Pakistani-administered Kashmir. Self- rule however was not the total solution, he added. It is a part of the solution process and (the) complete solution is (the) right to self determination, he said referring to his groups call for a plebiscite that would allow Kashmiris to decide whether they wanted the state to be part of India, part of Pakistan or independent. During the wide-ranging interview, he also stressed that militants needed a green signal from New Delhi before implementing a ceasefire, denied the presence of Al Qaeda operatives in Jammu and Kashmir and said that the militant leadership was ready for elections under the supervision of the international community. The Hizbul Mujahideen supreme commander, who is also chairman of the United Jihad Council (UJC), said that a ceasefire should not be viewed within the prism of the Indo-Pak peace process. Militant actions have continued alongside peace processes in Vietnam and Afghanistan, he noted. If Government of India is really serious about the solution of Kashmir issue, it must not keep ceasefire a pre-condition for it. But if the world community wants us to go for a truce to give peace process a chance, then New Delhi must give a green signal. On what he meant by a green signal, Salahudin said that New Delhi needed to recognise Kashmir as a disputed territory and restore the faith of the Kashmiri people by implementing various confidence-building measures. Such steps, he said, should include bringing troops back to their 1989 positions, releasing all innocent prisoners, halting army operations and an Indian pledge to the international community to engage in tripartite talks. If such measures were implemented, militants would offer no resistance to a ceasefire, he said. The Hizb commander went on to say that while the group would continue to pursue its basic role of militancy, it would also remain active on the political and diplomatic fronts so that no element was able to derail the peace process. If the peace process moves forward because of us, we will be very happy. We are fully aware that Kashmiris become the target whether the bullet is fired by (army) forces or militants. Kashmiris houses, schools and bridges are gutted and localities get destroyed, Salahudin said. He said that while militants felt the pain of Kashmiris it did not mean that people of Kashmir should surrender their basic rights because of that pain. If dialogue could have yielded results, militants would have been at the forefront of the peace process, he noted. The Hizb commander said that President Musharraf had risked his political credibility in by-passing Islamabads traditional stand on Kashmir and proposing self-governance, troop withdrawal and joint control of the region by both Pakistan and India. agencies


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