Nationwide solidarity with Kashmiris
5 February 2007
Islamabad: The ruling and opposition parties and several Kashmiri groups observed the ‘Kashmir Solidarity Day’ across the country on Monday. The day was marked with special prayers in mosques, one-minute silence, and hymning of sirens in the federal capital and other cities in remembrance of those killed during the Kashmiri struggle. Rallies, public meetings, seminars, and cultural events were also held to express solidarity with the people of Indian-held Kashmir. At a National Convention which was chaired by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz speakers laid stress on finding a just and lasting solution to the long-standing dispute on the basis of recent proposals of demilitarisation, self-governance and joint control. The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) held a rally of several thousand people in front of the Parliament and criticised President Musharraf for what its leaders said, betraying the Kashmir cause. Meetings and seminars were arranged by many groups which expressed solidarity with the Kashmiris in their struggle for self-determination. Some leaders called for continued support to Jihad, while others stressed the need for adopting a pragmatic approach to end the bloodshed. Observers said that the mixed views on the issue were indicative of the peace process entering a decisive phase. Supporters of President Musharraf described his initiative as bold and workable. They agreed that the government was not suppressing the views being expressed on the issue. At the National Convention Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said that Pakistan was ready to demonstrate flexibility on Kashmir if India did the same. Referring to the four-point formula proposed by President Musharraf, he said 'In implementing these concepts, there is a need for demonstrating flexibility for achieving a negotiated settlement through peaceful means'. However, he said, the most important aspect in pursuit of any negotiated settlement is its acceptability by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The MMA chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed accused the government of trying to strike a secret deal with India. Referring to some recent statements about the involvement of some top officials in back-channel diplomacy on Kashmir, the MMA chief called for disclosing details of the “secret proposals” on Kashmir sent to India. He regretted the admission by the President that only five people were privy to the proposals. He alleged that the rulers were conspiring against the ideology of Pakistan on the dictates from Washington. He accused the government of razing mosques and Madaris to appease Washington. Imran Khan of Tehrik-e-Insaaf described the government’s policy on Kashmir as a complete sell-out. He said those sitting in the government were once supporters of the Kashmir cause but under the pressure from West have betrayed the cause of liberation. Secretary General Jamaat-i- Islami, Syed Munawar Hasan, Secretary General JUI-F Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri and Mian Aslam and Hanif Abbasi MNAs also spoke on the occasion. The PML-N arranged a car rally, and the PML-Q organised a Kashmir solidarity walk.