April 2007 News

Foolish to think India can be destabilized: Pakistani Kashmir leader

29 April 2007
Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi: Pakistani Kashmiri leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan, who once backed insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, has confessed it was foolish to have imagined that India could be destabilized militarily.Khan - a former president and prime minister of Pakistani Kashmir ( or Azad Kashmir as Pakistan calls it) - said India was too big to be shaken up.'It was foolish to imagine that India can be won militarily,' said the senior leader of the Muslim Conference, which rules 'Azad Kashmir', and who once used to be known as 'Mujahid-e-Awal' (First Holy Warrior) - for his open support to the separatist campaign in Jammu and Kashmir.Pakistan has been long accused of giving arms and training to Kashmiris to fight Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir. The 17-year-old insurgency has left thousands dead besides devastating the society.The 80-year-old Khan, now one of the moderate voices from Pakistan, wants to think objectively vis-a-vis the divided Kashmir. His son, Sardar Ateeq Ullah Khan, is the current 'prime minister' of 'Azad Kashmir'.'We want to transform Kashmir from a dispute (between Pakistan and India) to a bridge between the two nations,' Khan told IANS, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting held at the Observer Research Foundation here.'Let's not talk about a resolution of the dispute any more. We have wasted 50 years in search of a resolution and achieved nothing. Let us think what can be done in the meantime.'Independent Kashmir isn't possible; transferring LoC (Line of Control) into permanent border is unacceptable; and remaining fastened to traditional stands is dangerous,' he pointed out, speaking freely and frankly.'Let's ease the movement across both Kashmirs and allow the people to meet each other till resolution comes about.'I see the Kashmiris on both sides of LoC prospering and trade and commerce between the two nations going up in the near future,' Khan said in an optimistic note.Along with other political leaders from Pakistani Kashmir and Northern Areas, Khan arrived here April 23 to take part in an Intra Kashmir Heart to Heart conference.Asked why Kashmiri separatist leaders were reluctant to board the peace bus, Khan said: 'I wish wisdom prevails on them.'Kashmiris have been the worst sufferers of the India- Pakistan conflict. This is what Kashmiri hardliners should understand,' he said, in an obvious reference to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who heads the radical faction of the Hurriyat and who has adamantly refused to support any peace moves in Jammu and Kashmir.Khan lauded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's efforts of organising roundtable conferences. 'Such exercises should continue.'He also hoped that Kashmiri separatists would some day join the peace process - for the sake of the common good of Kashmiris.'Sticking to traditional stands is dangerous to Kashmir and Kashmiris. We can no longer see Kashmiris dying,' he said, adding that Pakistan's 'flexible' attitude was derivative of its sincerity in saving Kashmiris.He also regretted that Jammu and Kashmir separatist leaders' refusal to attend Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's roundtable, saying he would have loved to share the table if invited.'That was really sad on part of the Hurriyat and separatist leaders. It was the forum to put their point of view.'If we cannot provide a solution, we should at least back the effort and not impede it.'Khan feels India and Pakistan could have always lived peacefully. But both countries, once a single entity, were always scheming how to undermine each other.'People in India and Pakistan were engaged in wishful thinking - like India will break up and Pakistan can be destroyed. But reality has dawned on both the sides now and people have started realizing (the value of peace).'Despite various difficulties inherent to the process, the peace initiative is moving forward in the right direction.'


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