Former Kashmir CM asks separatists to silence their guns
12 November 2000
Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammed Shah has asked Kashmiri separatists to silence their guns for a while to give ''peace a chance'' in the state that has been in the grip of violence for 11 years. Shah was speaking at a rally organized by his Awami National Conference (ANC), which has for the first time in 12 years asked separatists to silence their guns for a while. Shah said this would be a step towards seeking a permanent solution to the Kashmir imbroglio through trilateral dialogue between India, Pakistan and representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. ''Let me tell you trilateral dialogue is a must for a lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis,'' Shah told the rally. ''That (trilateral dialogue) is the only escape route (out) from the cycle of violence and extermination of Kashmiris,'' he said. ''Pakistan''s Chief Executive Pervez Musharraf is playing a negative role in the region. It is the same rigidity that is being displayed by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee,'' he said. Shah said Mushrarraf should acquaint himself with the basic facts about the people of India and Pakistan. The people in the two countries, he said, ''were a product of the same cultural heritage and also share their living habits and speak the same language and want to live like brothers, but Vajpayee and Musharraf do not want this to happen''. Shah said he would be offering a suggestion acceptable to India and Pakistan in the near future and that would help New Delhi and Islamabad hold talks on Jammu and Kashmir. He said people in the state were losing patience with the situation as they were the people who were ''losing their children every day. We have already lost 70,000 people. Time has come when the killings in Kashmir should come to an end.'' Shah said the Indian claim that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India was open to question. ''How can a territory that was divided into four parts in 1947 be an integral part of one country?'' he asked.