Failed Peace Initiatives Divides Kashmiri Separatist Leaders
20 September 2000
The Indian Express
New Delhi: The lobby of overseas Kashmiri separatist leaders are apparently divided on whether peace should precede a political initiative for the state or the militants be allowed to carry on ''jehad''. Ghulam Nabi Fai, the US-based leader, recently demanded that peace be given a chance. Ayub Thakur, a high profile leader from London says ''such talks only add to confusion and amounts to helping India''s cause in Kashmir.'' Their conflicting stands come in the wake of the failed peace initiatives following withdrawal of the ceasefire offer by the Hizbul Mujahideen two months ago. Fai, who heads the Kashmir American Council , has recently circulated a seven-point peace proposal on Kashmir among separatists. The proposals have evoked angry reactions from most of the Pakistan bases insurgent and political groups and also from those based abroad. The Pakistan based groups have openly rejected the proposals and accused Fai of ''betrayal''. It''s for the first time that overseas Kashmiri leaders are facing flak from those in the country. In the past they often condemned the Kashmiri leadership for their ''behavioral inconsistencies and differing views on important issues.'' Fai has addressed his proposals to the Government of India and Pakistan and the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). ''The Kashmir dispute must not be resolved militarily,'' Fai says. ''There can be no progress in talks if they are not accompanied by practical measures to restore peace in Kashmir.'' He has asked all parties to resist from laying preconditions for talks on Kashmir. Fai''s proposals include seeking mediation by a neutral observer, like Nelson Mandela of South Africa or anyone appointed by the United Nations. Asking all the sides to exercise restraint, during the preparatory phase to a ''final settlement'' , Fai says, ''Since we are concerned with setting the stage for settlement, we believe it is untimely to indulge in or encourage controversies.'' His proposals have drawn the severest criticism from -Thakur, who hates the London based World Kashmir Freedom Movement (WKFM). ''Kashmiri organisations working under diplomatic front, too, particularly the Indo-American Council should refrain from deviation from the basic principles of the right of Kashmiri self determination and achieving the objective through tripartite negotiations. Such deviations add to the confusion.'' Advising the overseas Kashmiris to refrain from publicly displaying discord and making frequent statements on new approaches, he said: ''Harping on various approaches is a sign of weakness and frustration.'' The bickering has embarrassed the Hurriyat leaders, who have always banked on Thakur and Fai for their propoganda.