2006 make-or-break year, says Mirwaiz
26 March 2006
Karachi: All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Sunday described 2006 as the ‘make-or-break’ year for the Kashmir issue and said “if we fail to come to expectations of people, it will be a big tragedy and the Indian government will be responsible for that.” The Mirwaiz was addressing a press conference held on the sidelines of the World Social Forum. Answering a question, he said the APHC’s idea of the ‘United States of Kashmir’ was similar to proposal presented by President Pervez Musharraf. He said President Musharraf’s statement that any solution unacceptable to Kashmiris would also be unacceptable to Pakistan had strengthened their struggle and Kashmiris were now in a position to raise the issue at world forums. He said the Hurriyat was in favour of a federation of the five regions of Kashmir under some sort of joint supervision of Pakistan and India, with equal representation from the regions. He said the APHC was striving to take along more and more political parties with it. In reply to a question, the Mirwaiz said that the people of Kashmir had a lot of expectations from the APHC for resolving the issue and added that Hurriyat’s focus and endeavours were to see the ongoing peace process achieve success. He said the recent roundtable conference called by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had failed because the APHC had boycotted it after New Delhi did not meet its precondition to stop repression in Kashmir and expand the sphere of the conference by inviting representatives from Azad Kashmir and Pakistan. About US President Bush’s leaving out the Kashmir issue from his talks with the Indian leadership, he said every country acted according to its own interest and the US had its own interest in the growing economy of India which it was pursuing. He, however, cautioned that the situation in the region would continue to be unstable as long as the Kashmir dispute was there. He pointed out that US think tanks were also of the view that there would be no security to US economic interests until the situation stabilised . Responding to a question, the Mirwaiz said that since the Kashmir issue was basically a problem of the people of Kashmir any initiative for its settlement should come from them. He noted that civil society groups in India had been increasing their pressure on New Delhi for a resolution of the Kashmir issue. Expressing dissatisfaction over the pace of the India-Pakistan peace process, he said the APHC supported progress on the issues of Sir Creek, Siachen, water, etc., but regretted that there was little change in the situation in Kashmir. He observed that Kashmiri leaders and Pakistan had demonstrated enough flexibility but there was no matching response from the Indian government. He said there were 850 Kashmiri political workers in different Indian prisons who were not released even after courts had ordered their release.