Kashmiri Militant Leader Criticises Musharraf Plan
27 October 2004
Muzaffarabad: The head of a leading Kashmiri guerrilla group on Wednesday criticised President Pervez Musharraf's proposals to end the decades- old Kashmir dispute with India, saying it was a sign of weakness. Speaking to journalists on Monday, Musharraf called for a national debate in Pakistan on options to resolve the dispute, which has caused two of the three wars between the nuclear-armed rivals since their independence in 1947. He suggested that troops could be moved out of the divided territory and then India and Pakistan agree to a compromise over its status that could be independence, joint control or some kind of UN control. Syed Salahuddin, the commander of the pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul-Mujahideen faction involved in the long-running Kashmiri insurgency, rejected Musharraf's call for debate. 'Such a debate will cause a wedge in Pakistan's principled position, which will be a national loss,' he said in a statement. Pakistan has long called for a UN-sponsored plebiscite to ascertain the wishes of Kashmiri people, but Musharraf has said he could set aside this demand and meet India half-way. Salahuddin regretted that Pakistan was gradually 'backtracking' from its position on Kashmir. He called for the inclusion of Kashmiri leadership in the dialogue process between Pakistan and India and said Musharraf's proposals could be discussed at such a forum. 'No final opinion can be given on these proposals without including representative leadership of Kashmir in the talks,' he said. 'Kashmir is neither a territorial dispute nor a dispute between the two countries. Kashmiri people are the real party to this conflict.' India responded coolly to Musharraf's proposals, saying that such suggestions should be discussed as part of a continuing peace process, not in the media.