'Bus service no substitute for right to plebiscite'
13 March 2005
Islamabad: Kashmiri leaders at a round-table conference here on Sunday said the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service was just a drop in the ocean and could not be a substitute for the right to self-determination of their people suffering under the Indian occupation for more than 57 years. The one-day conference on 'Initiative After Srinagar- Muzaffarabad Bus Service' had been organized by the Kashmir Institute of International Relations. The conference was held to develop a working paper based on the view points of various Kashmiri political factions on the bus service issue and other confidence building measures. Prime Minister Azad Jammu & Kashmir Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan voiced his concern and said Pakistan's Foreign Office and the establishment had not even taken him into confidence on the bus service issue. AJK President Maj-Gen (retired) Sardar Anwar, who presided over the conference, said the bus service must be taken positively. He asked the Kashmiri leaders to shun 'double standards' and either stand with Pakistan or fight their battle on their own. It was ironic, he said, that those who appreciated the bus service were now against it. The issue needed further discussions to sort out a joint strategy. After the 9-11, he said the world had changed and Kashmiris would have to adapt themselves to those changes. Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman Saleem Hashmi said though President Gen Pervez Musharraf had told the nation on television that all the Kashmiri leaders had been taken into confidence on the bus service issue, the ground reality was totally different. He warned that a new leadership would emerge if the present Kashmiri leaders failed to win the right to self-determination for their people. Former AJK prime minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum said there were two options left with the Kashmiris now. The first was to accept as their destiny each directive coming from above (Islamabad). This, he said, was an option of submission and peace as well to save one's head. The second option was to hit your head against the wall if it stopped you from heading towards your destination, he added.