Clinton urged to press India to resolve Kashmir dispute
20 March 2000
Muzaffarabad: Kashmiri leaders on Sunday called upon President Bill Clinton to pressurise India for resolution of the longstanding Kashmir dispute in order to establish peace in the region. Ghulam Mohammad Safi, secretary general of the AJK chapter of the All Parties Hurriat Conference (APHC), while speaking to Dawn on the eve of US president''s visit to the region, said he was sure that Mr Clinton would discuss Kashmir issue during his talks with the Indian leaders. Terming the statements of Mr Clinton, given by him before starting South Asian tour, as encouraging, the APHC leader said he believed that India would remain under pressure during the US president''s visit. When asked specifically what role the US president could play, the APHC leader said he (US president) should mount pressure on India so that she should agree that Kashmir was a disputed territory whose status was to be determined in accordance with the aspirations of its people. ''If India agrees on these two points, it would be very significant,'' he believed. The APHC leader said that if the US president would call for bilateral talks, it would be of no use. ''Instead he should press for inclusion of Kashmiris in talks,'' he said, adding, that All Parties Hurriat Conference was the real representatives of the Kashmiris. Mr Safi said that Kashmiris had made a formal request to President Clinton to ask India to release the detained APHC leaders and hold a meeting with them in Islamabad and New Delhi. The chief of Jamat-i-Islami Azad Kashmir and MLA, Abdur Rashid Turabi said the US president had raised hopes of the Kashmiris by saying that he wanted to end tension in South Asia because the root cause of the tension was the unresolved issue of Kashmir. He, however, regretted that Kashmir issue had not been formallyplaced on the agenda of US president in India and said this ''contradiction'' had caused concern among the Kashmiris. He feared that if the US president did not exert pressure on India, the mass killings in held Kashmir would continue. Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman Khalil, Amir of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, one of the groups fighting Indian rule in held Kashmir, also called upon the US president to ask India to quit the held territory. ''Tension in the region could end only by granting Kashmiris their right of self determination,'' he said. He said bilateral talks could not prove meaningful, as far as the Kashmir issue was concerned. Over the last 52 years such an exercise remained useless, he said.