Musharraf’s stand on Kashmir criticized
5 December 2006
Srinagar: Muslim separatists in Indian Kashmir said on Tuesday that they were dismayed at an interview by Pakistan's President Gen Pervez Musharraf in which he said independence for the region was not an option in peace talks with New Delhi. Kashmiri separatists claim the former kingdom has always been a separate region, and voiced concerns on Tuesday that this was not an issue in the talks between New Delhi and Islamabad. “It is not a good thing,” said Shabir Shah, chief of the Democratic Freedom Party, of Musharraf's comments. “Independence can be one of the options to resolve the long-pending dispute. No one should rule that out,” Shah told AFP. Shah, who had spent more than 20 years in different prisons for espousing Kashmir's independence, said only “people of Kashmir can decide what they want.’’ “Pakistan has maintained the Kashmir dispute will be resolved as per the aspirations of Kashmiris, and I hope there is no change in that stand,” said Mr Shah, who heads the Democratic Freedom Party. While most moderate separatists want independence for Kashmir, hardliners and militants want to see Indian Kashmir as part of Pakistan. “We always welcome suggestions, but what could be the final solution should be left for the people to decide,” said Javed Mir of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).