Mirwaiz, Chidambaram Speak With One Voice

5 December 2009
The Dawn
Jawed Naqvi

New Delhi: The head of Kashmir’s All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and India’s home minister on Saturday condemned this week’s attack on a moderate Kashmiri leader, their common concern signifying a shared roadmap to peace that seems to have been the target of the failed assassination attempt. While Mirwaiz Umar Farooq condemned the attempt on the life of senior APHC leader Fazl Haq Qureishi at an APHC meeting in Srinagar, Mr P. Chidambaram spoke in nearly the same words from New Delhi. The Mirwaiz chaired an emergency meeting of the APHC’s executive council to condemn the attack, saying it was aimed at thwarting a just solution to the Kashmir dispute. ‘Those whose business would be shut down if the Kashmir issue was resolved were behind the attack,’ the Mirwaiz said in a press release. Chidambaram said ‘elements like the attackers have pushed J&K to the brink of crisis in the past’. Kashmiris in the past have blamed both the ISI and Indian agencies as the most likely beneficiaries of continued strife in the valley. Chidambaram said the attack was ‘a cowardly attempt by those who do not wish that the problems of Jammu and Kashmir should be resolved through talks and in a peaceful manner. These are the elements which, in the past, have pushed Jammu and Kashmir to the brink of a crisis. ‘It is also clear that these elements act at the behest of forces that are inimical to India.’ Beyond the angry words and prayers for Qureishi, who is battling for his life in a hospital, neither Chidambaram nor the Mirwaiz offered further clues about the likeliest of people who might be interested in targeting the APHC leader. ‘The correct response at this hour is not to be cowed down by these violent acts or allow fear to interrupt the process of quiet talks and quiet diplomacy,’ Chidamabaram said. ‘I am happy to read the statements of the Mirwaiz and others who have vowed to continue their efforts to find a peaceful resolution through talks with the government of India. On our part, I assure the people of Jammu and Kashmir that we remain committed to finding a solution through quiet talks with every shade of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir,’ Chidambaram said. The Mirwaiz said the APHC was steadfastly opposed to joining Indian-staged elections in Kashmir. But it also believed that the only way to solve the core problem was to involve India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri people in a solution. Reuters adds: At least a dozen people were injured on Saturday in occupied Srinagar when hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police in protest against the attack on Qureishi. Police fired teargas shells to disperse stone-pelting protesters at several places in the city, where shops, businesses and schools were closed in response to a strike call by Kashmiri leaders. Qureishi, who suffered a serious head injury during the attack on Friday, continues to be in a critical condition, according to hospital sources. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police blamed Kashmiri militants, who oppose any talks with India. FO slams attack: The Foreign Office condemned on Saturday the attack on Fazl Haq Qureishi, a senior leader of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, in Srinagar. In a statement issued here, a Foreign Office spokesman described the attack as ‘barbaric’ and prayed for the well-being of Qureishi.-APP