'Valley People's Voice Must Count'
8 December 2006
The Times of India
Hyderabad: Academic-activist S A R Geelani on Friday cautioned the governments of India and Pakistan against reaching any solution on the Kashmir issue without taking the people of the region into confidence. 'A solution on Kashmir which does not involve the people of the Valley as a party would not last long. One should remember the case of the late Sheikh Abdullah who, on his own, had concluded an understanding with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. The public did not give its consent to that agreement. They waited till his death and revolted in 1989. This could happen again if they are ignored,' Geelani warned. Geelani, who was acquitted in 2003 after receiving death sentence in the Parliament attack case in December 2001, teaches Arabic at the Zakir Hussain College of Delhi University. The suave Kashmiri academic told TOI that Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has been talking in many voices. In his speeches in Pakistan he says that the aspirations of Kashmiris would be taken into consideration. But at international fora, he treats Kashmir as a bilateral dispute between Pakistan and India. Asked what mode does he suggest to find out what exactly the people of Kashmir want, Geelani said: 'The right fair way is to hold an election under the supervision of international monitors and elect representatives mandated to speak on the Kashmir solution. These representatives should become party to any parleys on Kashmir along with India and Pakistan. The majority of people in Kashmir are talking about the third option (independence) and are also discussing options of giving special status to regions like Jammu and Ladakh.' Geelani was in Hyderabad to address a meeting against death sentence. He spoke on Afzal Guru, who has been sentenced to die in the Parliament attack case. Asked whether he would be joining politics in the near future, he said, 'I am already in it. But if you mean joining a political group, then the answer is no. At least not now.'