Pak to blame for J-K problems: Imam Bukhari
7 September 2002
The Indian Express
Dubai: Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari has blamed Pakistan for the problems in Kashmir and said he was willing to ''mediate'' on the issue if the government so desired. ''I have no objection in mediating for peace. Let the government appoint me as an interlocutor to restore peace in Kashmir,'' the Imam said in an inteview to leading English daily Khaleej Times. ''I totally blame Pakistan for the problems in Jammu and Kashmir today and also the ISI for trying to disrupt peace and divide the Hindu and Muslims. ''Musharraf is working at the behest of ISI,'' he said adding that the Pakistani regime would be unable to foment trouble in Kashmir if the Indian government here ''bridges the gap and re-establishes trust between native Hindus and Muslims''. On the elections in the strife-torn state, he said there should be no forced elections in Kashmir. ''You have to win their (Kashmiri''s) hearts. You have to win Kashmir because it belongs to India and no one else.'' Bukhari said he had been to Pakistan for talks with Musharraf and the ISI chief on Indian Muslims'' problems and the issue of ISI exploiting the Indian Muslim youth to pursue its own agenda against India. Commenting on the recent communal violence in Gujarat, he blamed both Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani and said, ''I want to tell the BJP and VHP and the RSS that Muslims are not going to be suppressed... If this is their country it is ours as well.'' Significantly, without referring to the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which has several MPs in parliament, he said the community should have ''their own political party.'' He said, ''We are looking into the possibility of forming a political party of our own community. We have indications that the so- called secular forces like the Congress would not like us to do so as it would polarise the Muslim votes.'' He hinted that in the next elections in Gujarat ''the Muslims may possibly refrain from voting for the first time''.