Time to give up armed struggle, says Mirwaiz
19 January 2007
Islamabad: All Parties Hurriyet Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq on Friday called for giving up armed struggle to pave the way for fruitful negotiations for a lasting settlement of the Kashmir dispute. The Mirwaiz, who along with other senior leaders of the APHC, is on a visit to Pakistan, stated this after a series of meetings in Islamabad, including crucial talks with President General Pervez Musharraf. Speaking at a dinner meeting with Azad Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Attique, the APHC leader said peaceful negotiations were the only way out. 'We have already seen the results of our fight on the political, diplomatic and military fronts which have not achieved anything other than creating more graveyards.' The Mirwaiz said some people involved in the struggle could still have some reservations, but as far as the APHC was concerned, 'we are not prepared to sacrifice any more of our loved ones'. He said with their new strategy they would convince India to arrive at a more agreeable settlement. Earlier in the day, the APHC leaders held a detailed meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf, which was part of what is being described as a fresh effort to push forward the three-year-old peace process between Pakistan and India. The meeting attained a lot of significance because soon after their arrival in Pakistan, the APHC leaders had declared that their separatist organisation and the majority of Kashmiris living on the Indian side of the divide supported President Musharraf’s four-point settlement formula for Kashmir. The meeting largely focused on President Musharraf’s proposals which include self-governance, demilitarisation and joint control of the disputed territory. Conscious of the expected opposition to such a settlement from hardline groups, President Musharraf called for discouraging elements hostile to the peace process. As the meeting between the Pakistani leader and APHC delegation was taking place, hundreds of Jihadis and their supporters from the hard-line Islamic groups took to the streets in Islamabad, denouncing any attempt to compromise on Pakistan’s long-standing position on Kashmir. Earlier, in a meeting breakfast with the APHC leaders, PML chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said 'Time has come for a bold decision, even if it is an unpopular one.' He said that at this crucial moment in history there was no time to remain bogged down in a debate on the UN resolutions. 'Resolution or no resolution, now all sides need to consider what was in the best interest of the Kashmiri people, and then push for a settlement of the dispute,” the PML leader added. APHC leader Abdul Ghani Bhatt on the occasion said that there was little room to include the Kashmiris in the negotiations between India and Pakistan. 'These talks are taking place between two the sovereign states, and ours is just a disputed territory,' the veteran Kashmiri leader said. 'So, instead of creating problems, we think our purpose is solved by separately holding negotiations with both India and Pakistan,' he said. However, Mr Bhatt was quick to clarify that these were his personal views, and not those of the APHC. The Mirwaiz said there were many groups and parties in Kashmir, but it was the APHC which truly represented the aspirations of the people of the occupied land. He said since President Musharraf publicly presented his proposals for a lasting settlement, the majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir had accepted them as the best possible solution, adding that now it was time for India to match its efforts to move the peace process forward. The APHC leaders also had a series of meetings with the Indian side, but their scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was postponed.