Cross-LoC Trade First Step To Economic Independence: Mirwaiz

26 September 2008
Kashmir Observer

Srinagar: Welcoming the announcement to resume trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway, the chairman of the Hurriyat (M), Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, today said that the move was the first step of the Kashmiri people towards economic independence. The Mirwaiz called for utmost vigilance against elements active in disrupting the unity of the pro-freedom leadership, “as the slightest mistake of the leaders at this critical juncture can push the freedom movement back by hundreds of years.” Addressing a massive congregation at the central Jamia Masjid here on the occasion of the last Friday of Ramzan, the Mirwaiz said that the resuming trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway was not the final solution to the Kashmir issue, but was the first step towards the economic independence of the Kashmiri people. “This is the result of the sacrifices of the people, and the youth who trampled the Line of Control under their feet,” he said. “The Hurriyat Conference welcomes the historic announcement by the heads of the Indian and Pakistani states, but makes it clear that the people of Kashmir want the route as an alternative. It will not be acceptable as a symbolic gesture or for mere show,” the Mirwaiz said. “This is apparently a small step, but it can pave the way for the resolution of the Kashmir issue in the times to come,” he said, adding that political independence was incomplete until Kashmiris were self-reliant economically. The Mirwaz said that the announcements made by the two head heads of state in New York about making the talks process more effective was encouraging, as, according to him, this was the course by which progress could be made. “The Kashmiri people are demanding the right of self-determination, and the struggle will continue until the demand is met,” he said. “We are not terrorists, but are waging a peaceful struggle for the right of self-determination,” he said. “We are not fighting against any community, but are demanding our birthright, on which there will be no compromise,” he said. The Mirwaiz warned that the movement had entered a crucial phase, and the slightest mistake of the leadership could become hundreds of years of punishment for the people. “Conspiracies are being hatched in the name of organizations and groups to wreck Hurriyat unity, but this time such elements will have to eat humble pie,” he said. “It is because of the sacrifices of the people that resuming trade on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway was announced, and now a declaration has been made to move the dialogue process forward,” he said. “India is a nuclear power, so it carries more responsibility. It must take the initiative to resolve the Kashmir issue,” he said. “The Hurriyat wants to make it clear that elections are not a solution to the issue, and that the Hurriyat rejects the electoral process,” he said. Addressing a function held in the Jamia Masjid on the occasion of Yaum-al-Quds, senior Hurriyat leader and former chairman of the alliance, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, said that the Hurriyat was the custodian of the sacrifices of the martyrs, and no individual or group would be allowed to exploit the blood-nourished movement. Prof Ghani said that the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and the Poonch-Rawalakot routes for trade was a major success for the Kashmiri people.