Hurriyat, Hizb Chief Meet, Agree Rebel Fight Must Go On
7 June 2005
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Kashmir's chief Muslim cleric and leader of his faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and pro-independence Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik are learnt to have met Hizb-ul Mujahideen 'supreme commander' Syed Salahuddin to discuss issues confronting the state and their possible solutions. The Mirwaiz and Mr Malik are among the nine Kashmiri separatist leaders who travelled by the fifth Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus on June 2 to meet Kashmiri politicians, militant commanders and the Pakistani leadership on the sidelines of the ongoing India-Pakistan dialogue. Hizb sources across the Line of Control confirmed to local journalists that two of the visiting separatist leaders from the Valley called on their 'supreme commander', but they refused to divulge their names. The sources claimed that they agreed with Syed Salahuddin's stand that the 'struggle' in the state on the political, diplomatic and militant fronts should continue till an acceptable solution to the dispute over Kashmir is found. Hizb spokesperson Salim Hashmi was quoted as saying its chief had been separately called on by two visiting separatist leaders in Islamabad. Syed Salahuddin, whose original name is Muhammad Yusuf Shah, hails from Soibug village in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir and n Turn to Page 2 has been operating from across the de facto border for the past several years. He also heads the United Jihad Council (UJC), an alliance of various militant outfits active on the Indian side. Salim Hashmi said, 'Two of the leaders later met Peer Sahib (the Hizb chief) separately during which the ongoing peace process, with particular reference to the apprehensions of the people and mujahideen, came under discussion.' He, however, hastened to add that it was a personal meeting, and not of the UJC. The alliance had said before the separatist leaders boarded the bus on June 2 that they would not be received by it as a group. 'We as a group will not receive them as we have reservations over the line they have chosen to tread upon,' it had said in a statement faxed to newspapers here. The Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the frontline indigenous Kashmiri militant organisation, had also reportedly refused to meet the visiting leaders. The UJC and its constituents, including the Hizb, had declared they would continue with the 'sacred jihad' till absolute victory. Before leaving for Muzaffarabad, the Mirwaiz had said that meetings with militants would be at the top of the separatist leaders' agenda. 'We also want to know the stand of the Pakistani people and politicians in getting the Kashmir issue settled,' he said. Both the Mirwaiz and Mr Malik could not be contacted to know their version of the reported meetings. But newspapers in Muzaffarabad have reported that the two sides have agreed that the continuation of 'an effective and coordinated struggle on the political, diplomatic and militant fronts was indispensable till the surfacing of a solid and acceptable solution to the Kashmir dispute'. The meeting also acknowledged the 'successful role' of the armed struggle in making the Kashmir issue the focus of international attention. Syed Salahuddin is reported to have stressed that the unity of a 'reliable and recognised political leadership' and integrated diplomatic activities were the foremost requirement of 'our otherwise just struggle' to take it to its logical conclusion. He is reported to have expressed displeasure at the lack of unity in the separatist political leadership and insisted that by taking 'genuine faces' into confidence, Kashmir could be resolved amicably as per the wishes and aspirations of its people. He cautioned that unless this was done, no fruitful result should be expected from any dialogue or peace process. Meanwhile, reliable sources said the visiting separatist leaders have been telephoning their colleagues and other important people on the Indian side to consult them on certain proposals and suggestions that have come up at their meetings with the Kashmiri and Pakistani leaderships in the past six days. 'Each one of them has been provided with a mobile phone through which they are in constant contact with various people back home and (they) do consult them on issues before committing themselves before their hosts,' the sources said.