February 2004 News

Ali Gilani fears Pakistani U-turn on Kashmir policy

1 February 2004
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Chairman of the All Party Hurriyat Conference's (APHC) breakaway faction, Syed Ali Gilani, fears that Pakistan may be forced to reverse its Kashmir policy.He said though Pakistani leaders continue their lip service to the Kashmir cause, their 'actions don't match their words'. He said vacillating statements by Pakistani leaders have only confused the situation.Asked whether Pakistan was bowing to US pressure, he said, 'Yes, it is definitely buckling under the pressure.' He also said the Americans were working overtime to force Pakistan to reverse its stance on Kashmir like it did in Afghanistan. 'They (Americans) are bent on forcing their tailor-made solution on us,' he said in an interview from Srinagar on Sunday.Mr Gilani, known for his hardline views, also admitted that the ongoing Kashmir movement had no direction. He said while President Pervez Musharraf almost crossed the halfway point by showing his willingness to by-pass UN resolutions, India showed no inclination to budge from its 'unrealistic' position. He wondered how President Musharraf offered such a concession, when 'Pakistan's own Constitution provides for resolving the dispute only through UN resolutions'.Commenting on the idea of dividing Kashmir that was floated by some American think tanks, Mr Gilani called for the state's geographical unity. He said the only way to maintain this unity was to implement UN resolutions in letter and spirit. 'If the majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir decide to accede to India, I will accept the verdict without hesitation. But if the majority decides to go with Pakistan, then India should also accept the decision,' he said.Reacting to the recent talks between Indian leaders and the Ansari-led Hurriyat, Mr Gilani said in fact these leaders were ready for a compromise even before 9-11 and the events in Afghanistan and Iraq started unfolding. These leaders were using the changed global situation to justify their changed position.Talking about the details of one of the Hurriyat executive meetings under the chairmanship of Prof Abdul Gani Bhat a couple of years ago, Mr Gilani said Mirwaiz Omar Farooq had pleaded to explore the solution beyond the Hurriyat constitution. He said while others in the meeting did not object to Omar Farooq's remarks, he protested. The hardline leader said four things had to be considered before any solution the Hurriyat constitution, sacrifices by people, the Hurriyat constituents and Pakistan. 'These four things cannot simply be by-passed,' he added.Mr Gilani said they (the Ansari- led part of Hurriyat) had even reduced themselves to the extent of agreeing on internal autonomy. Referring to Omar Farooq's assurance regarding the roadmap, he asked the rival Hurriyat faction to make it public. He said some factions of the Ansari-led Hurriyat played a damaging role during the 2002 elections. 'Their role was passive, one constituent participated in the polls and the others gave it a clean chit,' he said.Asked whether he was willing to participate in talks, he said the Hurriyat constitution had a provision for tri-partite talks. 'But such talks have to be under the supervision of the UN or a friendly country,' he added. Declaring his terms for coming to the table, Mr Gilani said talks with the Kashmiri leadership would be fruitful only after India and Pakistan moved forward and showed some visible success regarding the Kashmir issue.Mr Gilani said he was leading an 'entirely peaceful movement'. However, he said the militants were fighting for a 'just cause' and he had no control over them.

 

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