85% Kashmiris Want Independence: Yasin Malik
23 June 2005
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik has said that 85 percent Kashmiris want an independent Kashmir and that he has witness euphoria for it in Pakistan during his recent visit.In an exclusive interview Rediff, Malik referring to his remarks about Sheikh Rashid said that he had been misquoted. 'I never said Sheikh Rashid gave militants training or gave us arms. What I said was that he gave us shelter when the Pakistani army threw us on the roads.' About his visit to Pakistan, he said that pro-independence sentiments are very high. 'Wherever we went it was a Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front show in the Azad Kashmir.' He added that Pakistanis have unconditional love for the Kashmiri people. 'They love us and want us to become part of Pakistan. We met intellectuals and people of different shades of political thought, both in the bureaucracy and in the government.' He said that Kashmiris have a constitutional and legal right to be a part of the dialogue. The people of Kashmir hear about the confidence building measures being taken by India and Pakistan on radio and television. We as a nation feel humiliated. It is a zone of conflict, he added. Asked if Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control have chalked out a course of action leading to independence, he said: 'Yes, that is true. But this is not a new phenomenon. For the last 15 years a number of agencies including leading media organisations like the BBC, AFP, CNN, two prominent Indian magazines, Outlook and India Today conducted surveys and they came to the conclusion that more then 85 per cent people want independence.' About AJK leaders, he said that they want Kashmir to be part of Pakistan. 'This has been their idea right from the beginning. We had an interaction with them but that does not mean we share their point of view. Sardar Abdul Qayoom Khan's son Atique said whatever the people of united Kashmir decide they would go by that verdict.' He said that India and Pakistan must stop playing favourites to a particular political party or an individual. 'They both have their own players. This is my suggestion to both countries that if they want the peace process to go ahead they must stop patronising political parties or individuals.' People of Kashmir, he said, would never accept a leader who has been imposed upon us by a foreign country. The two countries have spent a huge amount of money to project their leaders in Kashmir since 1947 but it hasn't worked. India and Pakistan have doubts about who constitutes the real leader of the people of Kashmir. Let this be decided in a democratic manner. Let eminent people from both sides of the Line of Control conduct elections. Whoever wins the election should be given a place at the peace- table, he suggested.