January 2007 News

End Armed Struggle, Says Mirwaiz, It Has Achieved

20 January 2007
The Indian Express

Srinagar: After meeting Musharraf, Mirwaiz says in Pakistan: Not prepared to sacrifice any more of our loved ones. Hardliner Geelani, Jehad Council slam him, say he is pandering to West, India, PakistanAll Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has called for an end to the 'armed struggle' to clear the way for negotiations for a lasting settlement of the Kashmir dispute. This statement came in Pakistan yesterday after a series of meeting Mirwaiz had in Islamabad - he is on a visit with senior Hurriyat leaders - including talks with Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf, the Dawn newspaper reported this morning. This is the first time in the almost two decades of Kashmir militancy that a separatist leader has issued such a call. Earlier, Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone had said that foreign militants should leave the Valley and not aspire for political clout - he was assassinated. Soon after their arrival in Pakistan, Hurriyat leaders declared that they and the majority of Kashmiris living in the Valley supported Musharraf's four-point settlement formula for Kashmir: soft borders, self-governance, demilitarisation and joint management. Mirwaiz's visit sparked a protest in Islamabad on Friday by more than 3,000 relatives and friends of Pakistani militants who have fought in Kashmir, the Associated Press reported. The protesters vowed to continue jihad against Indian security forces denouncing any compromise on Pakistan's long-standing position on Kashmir. According to the Dawn report, speaking at a dinner meeting with PoK Prime Minister Sardar Attique, Mirwaiz said: '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.' Mirwaiz said that some people involved in the struggle could still have some reservations but as far as the Hurriyat was concerned, 'we are not prepared to sacrifice any more of our loved ones.' He said that with this new strategy, the Hurriyat would convince New Delhi to arrive at a more agreeable settlement. Talking to The Sunday Express from Pakistan, Mirwaiz emphasised the need for the militant leadership 'to be supportive' of the peace process. 'Hurriyat thinks the time has come for working together and forming a consensus on an acceptable solution to Kashmir. Here, militants have a definite role. They should facilitate the effort,' he said. After the meeting, Musharraf called for discouraging elements hostile to the peace process. This assumes significance coming days after the bitter tussle for political dominance in Kashmir between the two factions of the Hurriyat spilled onto the streets. Mirwaiz's home was the target of a grenade attack and a bandh was called in the Valley against his Pak visit by hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani. 'Mirwaiz has no locus standi to make such a dangerous statement. It only betrays his hidden agenda which is to settle for a Pak- sponsored compromise on Kashmir,' Geelani told The Sunday Express. This was echoed by the PoK-based militant conglomerate, the United Jihad Council. 'Mirwaiz has given this statement to endear himself to Western and Indian leadership. But let him know that Kashmiris only took up the gun in 1989 after failing to settle the problem through peaceful political and diplomatic means for the preceding 42 years,' UJC spokesman Syed Sadaqat Hussain said in a statement. 'Our goal is settlement of Kashmir as per UN Resolutions. Nothing short of that.' Given the UJC criticism, sources said, there is a question mark over a possible meeting between Mirwaiz and Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin. National Conference chairman Omar Abdullah was guarded in his reaction to the statement. 'It is a welcome development but it remains to be seen how much Mirwaiz can influence the situation on the ground,' Abdullah said. Calling for a role for the militants in the peace process, he said: 'I think more than anybody else militants have a stake in the Kashmir settlement. No matter how much we talk, they are the ones who can deliver security and make the process work. So the Government should work for a dialogue with the militants without any pre-conditions as has been the case so far'.


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