July 2002 News

Shabir’s terms for taking part in poll

25 July 2002
The Tribune

Jammu: Mr Shabir Ahmed Shah, President of the Democratic Freedom Party and separatist leader has set the condition that if the Government of India initiated a dialogue with different political groups for the settlement of the Kashmir issue, he would participate in the next Assembly elections. Mr Shah, who has been in Jammu since yesterday, meeting several prominent citizens, told The Tribune here today that “I will not hesitate in participating in the elections if talks on resolving the 13-year-long turmoil preceded the poll schedule.” He said that talks could be of different nature and might be initiated through different channels but basically the representatives of the people of Kashmir should remain involved in such dialogues. He favoured government encouragement to interaction among the people’s representatives from Jammu, Kashmir and Pakistan-held Kashmir on the pattern of the Dubai conclave where the Chief of Pakistan’s Kashmir Committee, Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan, had discussions with Molvi Umar Farooq and late Mr Abdul Gani Lone, two senior Hurriyat Conference leaders. He said the 54-year-old problem “belongs to the people of the two states and hence their representatives should be invited formally for talks.” Mr Shah said, “Even the most free and fair Assembly poll is not going to solve the basic issue of Kashmir. “The turmoil will not end if the same set of political leaders are able to regain power in the next Assembly poll,” he added. The separatist leader said, “Our struggle is for restoring to the people of Kashmir peace, their dignity and honour and this cannot be achieved through Assembly poll.” In reply to a question he said, “It will not alter the ground realities if the election was held under the Governor’s rule.” He opposed the demand for the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and said that those forces which were supporting the demand “are the same that forced a division of India in 1947 for which we in Kashmir, have been paying a heavy price.” He said, “So far I have not received any response from the Government of India for my offer to take part in any discussion aimed at finding a solution to the Kashmir issue.”

 

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