Hurriyat is ready to prove our representative character by going to the people
12 October 2002
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Where does Hurriyat Conference stand today after the successful J-K elections? —Shaikh Jaweed Akhtar The APHC stands very much there where it was before elections. We believe that no election can be a substitute to the right of self determination. Even after holding elections the Government of India will have to talk to the people in Kashmir about the final settlement. Don't you think that you have proved that the All Party Hurriyat Conference doesn't believe in democracy by boycotting elections? —Rajendra Peter The APHC has never been against its involvement in any democratic exercise. But the question here is of elections, the same process the people of Kashmir have seen since 1947. If elections were the solution to the Kashmir problem that why have past elections failed to address the problem? These elections are in no way for the resolution of Kashmir problem, but they only address the issue of administration. Kashmir is not an issue of bad governance or misgovernance but much more than that. The APHC has said time and again that given a neutral mechanism, . Why is the APHC so enamoured with Pakistan? Aren't the so-called freedom fighters—who go ahead and kill innocents—being funded by the Pakistani army and the ISI? —Hilal Kohistani The APHC represents the sentiments of the broader spectrum of opinion of the people of J&K. We neither work on behest of Pakistan nor of India. We represent the red hot blood of those Kashmiris who have given their life for the right of self determination. You have to distinguish between a terrorist and a genuine freedom fighter. How do you propose to safeguard the interests of the minorities of the state? —Vipin Zadoo The APHC has always maintained that we want the honorable return of the Kashmiri Pandits. We have to start a collective process in that direction. Increasing interaction between the leaders of the two communities would definitely help. We have had opportunities through seminars and discussions to narrow down the gap which has unfortunately creped up between the two communities, but we have to intensify our efforts. What is your stand on PoK? And how are the Indians to believe the Hurriyat is the people's representive when they have never taken part in any elections? —Manoj Bodke AS far as Pakistan administered Kashmir is concerned, the APHC has taken a clear line that Azad Kashmir is not a part of Pakistan, it is a part of Kashmir, the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir. So any process which is initiated has to involve Azad Kashmir. More than a political problem Kashmir is a human problem, which is completely overlooked by everyone. People are divided, families are divided. So we aspire for the reunification of the state. And why is the APHC being asked to prove its representative character? No one asked people like Nelson Mandela, Sam Najoma and Yasir Arafat to prove their credentials when they were fighting for their rights. They represented the sentiment and so does the APHC. Having said that, we are ready to prove our representative character provided the process is free, fair and most importantly, neutral. With Kashmiri independence unlikely and the economic and social mess that Pakistan is in, don't you think that integration with India, without assilimation, is your most pragmatic option? —Sanjay Noronha It is the people who have to decide, there are parties and groups who talk about a merger with Pakistan or staying with India, or having an independant Kashmir, but ultimately It should be the people of J&K who should decide. What role, do you think, could the APHC play in bringing peace in J-K? —Chainrup Sharma What we're saying is, let all the parties sit and talk and we are sure that something will emerge. We are ready to play our role in resolving the problem. The APHC has time and again said that a structured dialogue is the only way to mover forward, all the parties_be it India, Pakistan or Kashmiris—will have to be flexible in their approach. The first step should be de-escalation, and cessation of hostilities. We are ready to work toward that, provided the GOI come up with something more concrete than mere rhetoric. What role will the Hurriyat play after a new govt is formed in J-K? Do you think the world will still accept Hurriyat as a legitimate representative of the Kashmiris? —Sanjay Even after elections, the problem of Kashmir is far from over. The people on the ground or even the new government face the same problems as before elections. Ground realities are not going to change. And the biggest reality is that elections have failed to address the basic problem: which isn't jobs, subsidies, economic packages or good governance but the future political dispensation of J&K. The objective of boycotting the polls was to tell the world that it is not elections but dialogue among all parties that people of J&K want. India has held more than 10 elections in J&K since 1947, if they couldn't solve the problem, how will this election? Secondly, New Delhi has always thrust its decisions on the people in J&K. They don't want elections but dialogue. Does Kashmir belong to Muslims only? —Louis Ferrao Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris_all those people who comprise the state of J&K irrespective of whether they are Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists. When we ask for the right of self determination it is not only confined to Muslims but equally to all inhabitants of J&K. And, we are totally opposed to any solution which is based on religious or ethical or cultural lines, we want a solution where the whole state can function as one cohesive unit. Is the APHC divided between hardliners and moderates? —Gulzar Fatima Social religious and human rights organizations, all the parties who believe that the Kashmir issue is yet to be resolved. There might be a difference in approach towards certain issues but there is complete unanimity about the need to resolve the Kashmir issue between all the parties. There are no hardliners or softliners.