Operation by foreign agencies ruled out: No Al Qaeda presence in AJK: LA speaker
23 January 2003
Our Staff Correspondent
MUZAFFARABAD: AJK Legislative Assembly Speaker Sardar Siab Khalid on Thursday said Al Qaeda did not have any presence in Azad Kashmir and no foreign agency would be allowed to launch any operation here on the pretext. 'Let me categorically declare that we do not have Al Qaeda or any of its members in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, which is a small and open area and where neither strangers can live in hiding nor anything unusual can go unnoticed for long,' he said at a programme of the Central Press Club. 'The freedom struggle in occupied Kashmir has not any link with the Al Qaeda or with international terrorism. It is aimed at achieving the right to self-determination in accordance with the internationally recognized principles,' said the speaker. It was India's propaganda, which was floated by its intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing and leaders from time to time in their bids to bracket the Kashmiris' struggle with terrorism, he said and expressed the hope that no one would pay any heed to it. Asked if the AJK government would allow any foreign agency to launch a hunt for alleged Al Qaeda members here, he said 'We cannot allow any agency, whether the American Federal Bureau of Investigation or some other, to launch any such operation here on this pretext.' However, he said, if those agencies believed that there was any such person, 'they should pinpoint him and we will take the action in the daylight.' The speaker also rejected the recent observations by Robert Blackwill, the US ambassador to India, as highly provocative and aimed at presenting the oppressor (India) as the oppressed. Mr Blackwill had said that the hope of easing the conflict in Kashmir continued to be narrowed by 'terrible acts of terrorist violence and that the US would continue to urge President Musharraf to do everything in his power to end permanently terrorist infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir.' The ambassador had also called for continued sanctity of the Line of Control. 'There is a great difference between terrorism and freedom movements. People of occupied Kashmir have been rendering sacrifices since 1989. Fighting for one's usurped rights is not terrorism by any standard,' the speaker said. 'But, let me make it clear that whatever Mr Blackwill, or those who share his views, may say the struggle in held Kashmir will continue as long as this dispute is not resolved in accordance with the United Nations resolutions,' he said. The speaker told a questioner that the Legislative Assembly, which was due to meet early next month, would also take up the issue and pass a resolution in this regard. Answering other questions, he said India's missile programme was a great threat to almost all countries of the region and they should take a unanimous stand to counter its designs. The speaker said the Gulf countries had the power to rein in India by imposing economic sanctions. 'The money which India earns from the Arab world is spent on purchasing and manufacturing weapons whose target are the Muslims,' he said and urged the Gulf states to halt trade with India and block the import of manpower from there. Replying to a question on Mangla Dam upraising, he said the project could not be initiated until the implementation of the decisions taken at a meeting chaired by President Gen Pervez Musharraf. 'The Wapda chairman has no authority to veto the decisions which have been taken by the president and the minister for Kashmir affairs,' he said. He agreed with a questioner that Neelum valley people were facing hardship because of unprovoked and unabated Indian shelling and needed maximum assistance from the government as well as the non-governmental organizations. 'From Bhimbher to Kel, all those who live along the LoC are facing difficult circumstances, but the problems of the Neelum valley residents are more than those of others,' he said. 'All these people should be facilitated to the maximum and even if the development of whole of Azad Kashmir is to be halted for this purpose, it should be done,' he said. Click to learn more...