Hizbul Mujahideen to review armed struggle if India agrees to tripartite talks

31 March 2008
The News International

Islamabad: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 By our correspondent Karachi Syed Salahuddin, Supreme Commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, the main group fighting for the liberation of Indian-held Kashmir, hinted at reviewing the groups armed struggle on the condition that India changes its stance and agrees to meaningful tripartite talks for the solution of the Kashmir issue. The armed struggle, which the people of Jammu & Kashmir initiated in 1989, is not a terrorist movement. Instead, it is a recognised movement for freedom and for the right to self-determination for the Kashmiri people. We are peaceful people and want a political solution to the problem, he told a crowded news conference in Karachi on Monday. Flanked by Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi Amir Muhammad Hussain Mehnti and other leaders at JIs Karachi office, Idara Noor-e-Haq, The Hizb leader criticised Pakistans previous government for providing unilateral concessions to India, saying that it caused irreparable loss to the Kashmiris freedom struggle. Salahuddin, however, welcomed the statement of newly-elected Prime Minister of Pakitan Yousuf Raza Gillani on Kashmir and said that the issue was a matter of life and death for Pakistan. He hastened to add that they didnt want a confrontation between Pakistan and India. Calling for a Kashmir-centric foreign policy by the new Pakistani government, he further warned that freezing the Kashmir issue, as suggested by some elements in Pakistan, would be tantamount to committing national suicide. India can convert Pakistan into a desert as a majority of rivers and water sources originate from Kashmir. In fact, India has already started doing so by constructing 52 dams on Chenab and other rivers originating from Kashmir and flowing into Pakistan, he warned. The Hizb Commander claimed that the entire Pakistan was with the Kashmiri people but demanded a national consensus among all political forces in Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir on the pattern of India, where all parties have similar stance on the issue. To a query, he warned that Kashmiris will not accept any other solution to the issue except for self-determination as enshrined in the United Nations resolutions. Kashmiris will never accept autonomy, the freezing of the issue or recognising the LoC as a permanent border, he maintained. Replying to another question, he said that though Hizbul Mujahideen wants Kashmir to accede to Pakistan, it was up to people of Kashmir whether they wanted to join Pakistan, remain independent or continue to live with India. Actually our entire struggle, 42 years of peaceful movement and later the armed struggle since 1989, is only for the right to self-determination. The people of Kashmir want their right to become the masters of their own fate, he added. On the occasion, he disclosed that ,in coming months, India was planning to hold polls in occupied Jammu and Kashmir, during which it had planned to give the impression that, not only were the Kashmiris participating in the elections but that they also wanted to elect their own representatives. We have learnt that Indian armies in civil dress and people from other Indian states would be shown casting votes in the polls to give the impression that Kashmiris are participating in the polls, he claimed but warned that Hizbul Mujahideen and the Kashmiri people will not let this happen. He also expressed his disappointment over a reception hosted by newly-elected Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza for the pro-Indian leaders and said that this act has disappointed the people of Kashmir to a great extent.