Guns Will Roar Till Tripartite Talks: UJC

21 April 2008

Muzaffarabad: Leaders of United Jihad Council (UJC), an alliance of fighter groups battling Indian rule in Kashmir, on Monday publicly criticised President Pervez Musharraf’s policies on the disputed region and vowed, after virtual lull for quite some time, that Jihad being an obligation would be carried on until the end of Indian subjugation. Speaking at what was named as “Azm-e-Jihad Conference” under the aegis of a Kashmiri refugees’ organisation “Pasban-e-Hurriyat” the militant and political leaders also flayed the Muzaffarabad government for according “red carpet reception to the killers of the Kashmiri people.” The function, attended by over 1,000 people, was held under a large canopy on the lush green lawns of a hotel along the left bank of icy Neelum River. A number of banners, displayed on the occasion, also reaffirmed the “Kashmiris’ resolve to continue their struggle till complete eviction of Indian troops from Kashmir.” The programme and the body language of speakers was unusual particularly when judged in the backdrop of the bearing of Pakistan based Kashmiri militant and political leaders after 9-11 when a crackdown on extremist elements was launched by President Musharraf “under external pressure.” Analysts are of the view that the change of guards in Islamabad has encouraged the Kashmiri leaders to come out, all of a sudden, with renewed calls for a forceful jihad while UJC chairman Syed Salahuddin angrily dismissed reports of any softening on the armed struggle while interacting with reports later in a brief question answer session. “I have never been inactive. Not for a fraction of a second over the past seven years. This is a wrong perception,” he said in response to a question. Earlier, speaking at the conference Salahuddin said the fighters wanted to give a clear message to the people at the helm of affairs as well as political and religious leadership in Pakistan, and at the same time to the Indian rulers, that until every single inch of Kashmir was freed from New Delhi’s slavery, the struggle would continue with full force. “People who taunt us as gun-frenzy must not forget that we launched a peaceful political struggle for emancipation for 42 long years but its absolute failure compelled us to take up arms,” he said. The UJC chief reiterated that the mujahideen were ready to lay down weapons provided India accepted their conditions, such as acknowledging the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory and its settlement through meaningful tripartite talks. He regretted that after 9-11 Musharraf regime offered too many concessions to India, including the fencing of Line of Control, which caused great disappointment among the Kashmiris. “In 2000 and 2001 our struggle had reached a decisive phase, but unfortunately Musharraf took on the pressure against the Islamic movements beyond the pale and consequently the political and diplomatic support to our movement declined considerably,” he said. He disclosed that Kashmir had never been a “core issue” in any round of talks between India and Pakistan during Musharraf government. On the peace process, he said Kashmiris were a peace loving nation but could not promote peace process at the cost of their martyrs. Salahuddin made it clear that the Kashmiris would not accept any formula except complete liberation of their motherland. “Division, status-quo, internal autonomy or cross border trade, all are unacceptable,” he declared, adding, the militants were not opposed to trans-LoC travelling but they would not allow anyone to use it to dilute the freedom movement Salahuddin also dispelled the impression as “enemy’s propaganda” that the mujahideen had got tired. “Who says we are tired? We cannot betray the blood of 500,000 martyrs. As the number of martyrs is rising, Jihad has become an obligation of everyone,” he said. Salahuddin also called upon the PaK government “to stop paying lip service to the movement,” and play its role in it on solid basis.” “The government in this part of Kashmir should reserve 75 percent of its budget for (freedom) movement and train its youths on war footing to liberate their enslaved brethren across the divide.” The UJC chief asked Islamabad to hold Kashmir centric and targeted talks with India. Referring to Asif Ali Zardari without naming him, he said unfortunately some imprudent politicians were suggesting that Kashmir issue should be left for next generations. “This movement cannot be postponed even for a single day, not to talk of next generations,” he said. Referring to militant leadership’s participation in talks, he said: “We are not opposed to talks but the process should be in line with the aspirations of the Kashmiris. Whether we participate or not is insignificant. What is important is that when, where and on what issue the talks are held. If held on our conditions, we will appreciate and endorse the talks.” Prior to Salahuddin, a number of other militant and political leaders also spoke. Tehreek-e-Kashmir convenor Ghulam Mohammad Safi blasted the PaK government, asking it to give up the practice of toeing the line of Pakistani rulers. “You should develop courage to call a spade a spade. And you should also refrain from according red carpet reception to the so-called leaders whose hands are stained with the blood of Kashmiris, whether it is Omar Abdullah or Mehbooba Mufti,” he said. His views were later echoed by APHC convenor Syed Yousaf Nasim who said Pakistani and Kashmiri leaders may receive Indians but not those who were responsible for the massacre of Kashmiris. “Red carpet reception to such leaders is tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of oppressed Kashmiris,” he said. Almost all speakers criticized the previous Pakistani government’s policies on Kashmir, with some saying that Islamabad was trapped by New Delhi into weakening the Kashmir freedom struggle. Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi, amir of proscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba, was also among the speakers but he focused his speech on some instances from the Islamic history to establish a point that freedom movements could take longer than expected time and Kashmiris should not get disappointed from 19 years of struggle. Prominent among other speakers were Sheikh Jamilur Rehman of Tehrikul Mujahideen, General Abdullah of Jamiatul Mujahideen, Attiqur Rehman of Harkatul Mujahideen, Farooq Qureshi of Al Bar Mujahideen, Mastoid Sarfraz of Hizb-e-Islami, Uzair Ghizali of Pasban-e-Hurriyat, Raja Izhar Khan, Yousaf Butt and Amjad Khan advocate.