Peacenik Giants Owe Status To Gun: Salahuddin
7 February 2007
Kashmir Observer News Service
Islamabad: Determined not to let anyone undermine the future role of the armed struggle in the Kashmir movement, the chairman of the United Jehad Council (UJC) and the supreme commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, today said that but for the gun, separatist leaders would have been an ignored lot today. 'It is the 'miracle of the gun' that these leaders are treated to lunch and dinner in the highest councils of India and Pakistan,' Salahuddin said in an interview to the KNS. 'If Mirwaiz Umer Farooq persuades India to limit its troops level in the state to just 10 or 20 times the militant strength, the UJC will be prepared for a ceasefire without a second's delay,' he said. The militant leader said that the UJC respected all separatist leaders in the state who are arrayed against India and valued everyone who nourishes the movement and the aspirations of Kashmiris. In reply to a question, Salahuddin said that the UJC had announced beforehand that it would not meet the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat team that toured Pakistan recently, but there had been no bar on commanders of the UJC constituents to meet the team in their individual capacities. 'Not meeting the Mirwaiz was a gesture of protest to make it clear that the UJC was not satisfied with their (Hurriyat's) talks process, because, instead of benefiting the Kashmir cause it has caused it harm,' he said. 'A senior associate of ours who met the Mirwaiz, later talked to us also and said that he had made it clear to the Hurriyat leader that he was not satisfied with the talks process because India was not prepared to budge even an inch from its stated position,' he said. Commenting on the Mirwaiz' appeal for a temporary ceasefire, the UJC chief said that Indian military commanders had put the number of militants active in the state at around 1500, and his alliance would declare a ceasefire without a second's delay if the Mirwaiz persuades India to restrict its troops to just 10 to 20 times that number and recall the rest of the armed forces. 'If, according to Indian military leaders, there are 1500 militants active in the state, what is the justification in deploying 7 lakh troops to counter them,' he said. 'We had tested the ceasefire option under the leadership of the late Abdul Majeed Dar in 2000, but India stuck to its obduracy even at that time and we had to withdraw the truce,' he said. 'When the other party is not serious and is playing poker, it cannot be trusted,' he said. 'I cannot understand what misapprehension or misunderstanding the Mirwaiz is labouring under,' he said. To the possibility of India declaring a unilateral ceasefire in the future, Salahuddin said that the UJC would respond after consulting all its constituents and commanders in the field, and assessing the ground situation. To a question about the UJC's role in unifying rival Hurriyat factions, Salahuddin said: 'The UJC is concerned about the divided separatist leadership. We want a course of action that brings the leadership on a single platform without impairing the status of the Kashmir issue, and at the same time accommodates tripartite talks.' Salahuddin said that it would be worthwhile knowing what caused the Hurriyat to fragment, because 'a united Hurriyat was like a shield for us.' 'Be it Shabir Ahmad Shah or Muhammad Yaseen Malik or Geelani sahib, all of them would have to agree to proceed ahead acting on a single course of action,' he said. He said that bringing the leaders together at one place would be easy, but first they would have to formulate a unified strategy. He disclosed that the UJC was keeping up its efforts in this direction, and they would be intensified in the times to come. 'People who talk of wanting to show us the way, and advise us to change with the circumstances, to them we say that people leading an independence struggle do not change with the times and do not change their stance,' he said. 'People who are invited to lunch and dinner in the councils of India and Pakistan and called for talks with prime minister Manmohan Singh and president Pervez Musharraf should understand that it is all because of militancy,' he said. 'It is the gun that taken them to this position. Had the gun not been there, no one would have bothered about them, be it the Mirwaiz or Geelani,' he said. 'Political leaders who feel fatigued must sit and rest, and not give us lessons, because taking a freedom struggle to its logical conclusion requires sacrifices, and one can't shirk from that,' he said. Salahuddin said that the attacks on the Mirwaiz residence and the Hurriyat headquarters were condemnable and designed to spark off a civil war in Jammu and Kashmir. 'Such intentions will not be allowed to exceed,' he said. He said that he had no knowledge about the organization called the Save Kashmir Movement and it was not a member of the UJC, 'However, people engaged in anti-movement activities could be the instruments of Indian agencies,' he said. Salahuddin said that the present talks process was yielding no results and was just a means of passing time, and it was India that was reaping the gains. 'The militant leadership will not allow the militancy graph to fall in the state and will keep up its activities on the political and the diplomatic fronts,' he said. 'The reduction of militant activities is a strategy aimed at minimizing damage to militants and maximizing the damage to opponents,' he said. 'This is a strategy that has frustrated the Indian army so much that troops are committing suicide. And internal clashes within the army are a result of militant pressure,' he said. 'We support every individual who upholds the sanctity of the sacrifices of the people of the state and is sincere towards the movement by giving primacy to the aspirations of the people,' he said. 'Those who deviate from the basic principles and objectives will not receive our support,' he said. To a question on Syed Ali Shah Geelani being denied a passport, Salahuddin said that the step explained Indian policy that some people are given papers to travel oversees but Geelani is deprived of travel documents. 'India is apprehensive that Geelani's Pakistan visit would invigourate the Kashmir movement. That is why he has not been issued travel documents,' he said. Salahuddin said that the Musharraf government's flexible policy on Kashmir had caused more harm than good, 'But the people of Pakistan are with Kashmiris. The response to the Kashmir Solidarity Day is ample proof of that,' he said. 'Governments change policies because of compulsions and pressures. But that makes no difference,' he said.