February 1999 News

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An Islamic Leader's Advice to Kashmiris

24th February 1999
United News of India

ISLAMABAD: A leader of Pakistan's powerful Islamic party, the Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI), has asked the people of Kashmir to remain within the Indian Union but with greater autonomy.

Maulana Mohammad Khan Shirani, who is also a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology, made this statement in an interview with "Dawn" during his visit to Kashmir at a time when his party's rival, the Jamaat-i-Islami, was opposing Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to Lahore and supporting militancy in Kashmir in the name of Islam.

The Maulana told Kashmiris that there was no Islamic system in Pakistan. "It was better for he Kashmiris to get more internal autonomy within the Indian Union. It would be advantageous for them," he said.

The Maulana, who belongs to Baluschistan, said Kashmiris were shedding their blood for islam, but "I ask them: Is there Islam, economic prosperity, peace and democracy in Pakistan?" Pakistan, he said, was itself a slave to an alien system since there was no Shariat and Sunnat in its courts and government.

Maulana Shirani rejected the argument that Kashmir should have gone to Pakistan in accordance with the formula applied for the division of the united India. If so, what happened to East Bengal, he asked.

He also rejected Pakistan's claim that Kashmir was its jugular vein because all rivers irrigating Punjab and Sindh emanated from that state.

He accused the Muslim League of creating hostility between Hindus and Muslims who had lived in peace and harmony of centuries before the League was launched.

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