Hizb rejects Powell''s plea on J&K polls
29 July 2002
The Times of India
ISLAMABAD: The Hizbul Mujahideen has welcomed American statement that Kashmir is on international agenda but rejected Secretary of State Colin Powell''s assertion that polls to J&K Assembly were the first step to bring peace in the region. ''We welcome Mr Powell''s announcement in New Delhi that Kashmir is an international issue... But as far as his stand on the forthcoming farcical exercise (elections) in Kashmir is concerned, we disagree with him,'' said Hizbul''s spokesman, Salim Hashmi. Hizb has already called for a boycott of the polls and warned local politicians from contesting the polls. ''We are fully convinced that elections can in no way lead to the solution of the Kashmir problem. India is holding them to form a local administration in the occupied territory and the exercise has nothing to do with the settlement of the longstanding dispute. We have rejected the polls in the past and we reject them this time as well,'' Hashmi was quoted by local daily Dawn. ''We make it clear that we are least concerned about the polls, whether they are free, fair or fraudulent,'' he said. Drawing attention to the 1957 UN Security Council resolution on Kashmir, which calls for a plebiscite in the state, Hashmir said, ''We are concerned about the provision of that opportunity to the Kashmiris to decide their future with free will and the very thing has been pledged to us by the world community long ago.''