Leaders Oppose Division Of Kashmir
5 February 2004
Karachi: Division of Kashmir will not be acceptable, not only to Kashmiris, but also to the 140 million Pakistanis. If anyone made an attempt to divide it he would have to face the wrath of the whole nation. This was the consensus that was reached at a seminar, entitled 'Islamabad Declaration and the Future of Kashmir', which was held on Thursday. The seminar, organized by PML-N Sindh in connection with the 'Kashmir Day', was presided over by Raja Zafarul Haque. The PML-N chairman was flanked by leader of the opposition in the Senate, Mian Raza Rabbani, who is also the PPP's Deputy Secretary-General, prominent politician Meraj Mohammad Khan and PML-N Sindh leaders acting President Imdad Chandio and General-Secretary Mamnoon Hussain while Khwaja Tariq Nazeer conducted the proceedings. Referring to the Islamabad declaration they said this was not the only document, as was claimed by Gen Pervez Musharraf, in which India had conceded that Kashmir was a disputed territory. This fact was accepted by New Delhi in the Simla agreement and also in the Lahore declaration. Accusing the rulers of making compromises on national issues, Raja Zafarul Haque said that it was due to incompetence that the present government had backtracked on almost all issues of importance. They have had an easy sailing because they did not have too many opponents, he said. He termed the attitude of the present rulers towards the nuclear scientists as harmful for the country. Tracing the country's history, he said despite opposition and foreign pressures the nuclear programme was kept operational for more than 30 years. The PML leader said that had Pakistan not possessed the nuclear device, India might have issued an ultimatum, asking for its surrender within a stipulated period. It was because of Pakistan's nuclear capability that India had not indulged in adventurism. Raja Zafarul Haque said conspiracies were being hatched against Pakistan's nuclear programme since the last 30 years but every government, whether elected or caretaker, had resisted foreign pressures except the present one. He said the government's policies would not last long as in the beginning the people were not fully aware of their implications. Today the government was not being run by Mir Zafarullah Jamali but by Gen Pervez Musharraf as the premier called the president his boss. Referring to the case of scientists, he said that instead of adopting a national stance over the issue, Gen Musharraf had said repeatedly that some scientists, in their individual capacities, and not the government had been involved in nuclear proliferation. He said the present rulers, who used to say that Kashmir was a core issue and no talks could be held with India without a discussion on it first, had made a U-turn. New Delhi used to say that there was only one difference in the approach on Kashmir between India and Pakistan. India stood for status quo on Kashmir while Pakistan wanted to break the status quo. But now, he said, this difference had been removed. Mian Raza Rabbani accused Gen Musharraf of giving priority to his individuality over national institutions and said important decisions were being made outside the parliament. Even the cabinet was often not taken into confidence. Highlighting the need for a national consensus on the Kashmir question, he said the same could be reached after a debate on the issue in the parliament. However, he made it clear that no solution of Kashmir would be acceptable to the people if Benazir Bhutto and Mian Nawaz Sharif were kept out of discussions. He said that as far as the nuclear scientists were concerned, it was ARD's stand that the issue should be placed before the parliament and if it was too sensitive the Parliament session could be held in camera. He said the so-called 'mercy petition' of Dr A.Q. Khan instead of being sent to the cabinet for consideration should be sent to the parliament. Meraj Mohammad Khan said Dr A.Q. Khan had saved Pakistan by offering his sacrifices once again. He said the present government had taken so many U-turns that he had a hunch that it was going to take one on nuclear programme as well. He said that as Pakistan and India both were nuclear powers, the Kashmir issue could not be resolved through war but through dialogue. He said what a turn history had taken that those who were opposed to the Lahore declaration were now sitting at the feet of Indians.