Polls will not help Kashmiris, JKLF chief tells U.S.
23 August 2002
B Muralidhar Reddy
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan-based Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has said that if the U.S. was really interested in ensuring permanent peace in South Asia, it should work for it without giving in to the ''undue arrogance'' of India and the refusal of Pakistan to concede to the Kashmiris their ''right to complete independence''. In a letter addressed to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, who is currently in the region, the chairman of the JKLF, Amanullah Khan, said that it was no use for Kashmiris engaged in a ''freedom struggle'' to contest elections. Mr. Khan, a proponent of an independent Kashmir, said there had been over half a dozen elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly during the last 50 years but they had not helped solve the issue. He said the focus should be on solution of the main Kashmir issue rather then ''secondary matters'' like the Assembly elections. The significance and stature of the Kashmir Assembly could be judged from the fact that the demand for restoration of internal autonomy of Kashmir made by over a two-third majority was rejected by the Centre in a ''most derogatory tone and contemptuous manner''. He reiterated his stance that the best way to solve the issue would be to re-unite the divided State and make it a fully independent Union with a democratic, federal and secular system of government and having friendly relations with both India and Pakistan. He said 15 years later there could be a UN-sponsored referendum in which the Kashmiris could decide whether to remain independent or become part of India or Pakistan.