Full Independence Of Kashmir Not Possible: Mirwaiz
6 January 2006
The Daily Times
Islamabad: It is not possible for the complete independence of Kashmir under present circumstances and therefore a policy of co-existence acceptable to India, Pakistan and Kashmiris should be adopted, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman, said on Friday. Mirwaiz is currently visiting Pakistan as head of the APHC delegation to express solidarity with the survivors of the October 8 earthquake. During his stay he met most Pakistani leaders and discussed with them the latest proposals for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. In an interview with Daily Times, Mirwaiz said self-governance and demilitarisation of Kashmir could be an interim arrangement under which the people of Kashmir could get a sense of 'being masters of their own destiny'. He said sticking to traditional positions was no solution and the idea of self-governance could provide the way out. The objective behind the concept of self- governance and demilitarisation was to give Kashmiris a sense of self- rule and a sense of being masters of their own fate, he added. He would take the proposals of self-governance and demilitarisation to all five regions of Kashmir so that people could get a better understanding of the idea, Mirwaiz said, adding that in this connection he would be visiting Jammu after Eidul Azha. 'Even in the Jammu and Ladakh regions, where our movement is not very strong, people have started saying that these ideas are acceptable,' he said. 'The people of Jammu and Ladakh, including Hindus and Buddhists, are putting aside fears that they don't want to align themselves with the APHC because it only talked on Pakistan's behalf,' he added. Nobody could deny the fact that India too had shown the desire to move forward on the Kashmir issue, Mirwaiz said, adding, 'What the Indian prime minister had said during our meeting in September 2005 was very encouraging. We want the people of Kashmir not to feel different when they are either in Srinagar or in Muzaffarabad.' About his assertion seeking international guarantees for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, Mirwaiz said the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) could serve as a guarantor if efforts were made to create a forum for negotiations on bilateral issues. 'It is not necessary to seek international guarantees from the US and UN. There is a possibility that we bring in SAARC for international guarantees, but there is a need to strengthen SAARC so that it could serve as a guarantor,' he said. The APHC had not changed its stand on UN resolutions, but there was no possibility of implementing them in the near future, he added. However, he proposed that the UN should have a role in the Kashmir dispute and a mechanism should be evolved in this regard. 'I will say there should be a mechanism and there should be some involvement of the UN in the issue,' he said. Proposals of self- governance and demilitarisation were at their embryonic stage and at this stage it was not necessary to have an international guarantee, he said, adding, 'However, we have talked to EU and US senators and congressmen and British MPs. Everybody feels that there should be some point acceptable to everyone connected to Kashmir's resolution. Kashmiris should be given the right to govern themselves. But you see we have not yet reached a stage where international guarantees are required.' He said, 'We have held detailed discussions with President Pervez Musharraf on proposals of self-governance and demilitarisation. We told him that our idea of a United States of Kashmir was similar to the idea of self-governance put forward by Pakistan. The concept is the same. You can give it any name.' He also said the various regions of Kashmir had different issues and there were five units in Jammu and Kashmir. 'We want to develop a set up, which will protect the individual identity of every region. We are basically thinking in terms of raising a federal structure,' he added. The demilitarisation of Kashmir was a pre-requisite for things to move forward, he said. 'There is a large paramilitary presence in Kashmir and there is a psychological impact of violence on the people. The withdrawal of troops will create a sense of achievement among the people,' he said, adding that the APHC had forwarded the idea that Jammu and Kashmir's internal security should be handed over to a Jammu and Kashmir police and all foreign troops should leave the area. He said the APHC had adopted the policy of engaging India and Pakistan. 'This is for the first time in the past 57 years that the people of Kashmir are talking to India and Pakistan as a party to the dispute,' he said, adding that APHC's policy had put India on the back foot. About the internal division within the APHC, Mirwaiz said, 'We have adopted the course of negotiation and unity is expected between us. However, we are advocating the resolution of the dispute through peaceful means.' About the fate of militancy in the Valley, Mirwaiz said the political leadership in Kashmir needed the support of the mujahideen. 'Actually, there is a need to channelise the movement, which is being fought on different fronts. The militants will have to work in tandem with the Kashmiri leadership. Nothing will happen in isolation,' he said. The APHC was setting up an office in Islamabad to keep in contact with the Kashmir Jihad Council and Pakistani political parties, Mirwaiz added. There should be a joint strategy, he said, adding that the Kashmir movement had passed through various stages. 'Sometimes militancy is more prominent and sometimes political activity is more important,' he said.