May 2007 News

Back home, Qayyum refuses to back down

5 May 2007
The Hindu
Nirupama Subramanian

Islamabad: Faced with a volley of questions by an accusing Pakistan media over his reported statements during a visit to India, Kashmiri leader Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan stuck to his guns, saying the truth about cross-border militant training camps could not be hidden, nor could anyone find fault with his desire for peace in Kashmir, and that the United Nations resolutions were 'obsolete.' Returning from New Delhi on Thursday, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir drove straight to meet the media in the capital, presumably to clear the air over his statements that have been slammed by Kashmiri Opposition parties here. The ageing leader, also known as the First Mujahid, said it was 'a fact that there were training camps [for militants] in Pakistan and in Azad Kashmir [Pakistan Occupied Kashmir].' 'Speak the truth' 'It was in the open. We cannot keep something like this under wraps. The Americans can give you all the details about these camps. These things cannot be kept hidden in this day and age. We should speak the truth, or we will be exposed as liars,' Mr. Khan said. But, the Kashmiri leader said, he had been misreported as saying these were 'terrorist' training camps, while he had stressed the camps were for 'freedom fighters.' He said he had also pointed out that President Pervez Musharraf had closed down the training camps and that there was no more infiltration into India. His purpose in India was to attend an intra- Kashmir 'hear-to-heart' dialogue, where he asked for free movement of Kashmiris, intra-Kashmir trade and peace, Mr. Khan said. 'We have wasted 50 years in discussing a final solution, and got nothing in return but bloodshed and suffering for Kashmiris. There should be no more discussion on this. Rather we should focus on tackling the situation on the ground in Kashmir, where people are dying. If we focus on the process, improve the atmosphere, it will lead to the solution by itself,' Mr. Khan said. 'No one can disagree with my point-by-point demands for free movement, trade and peace.' Asked about Indian 'inflexibility' to Gen. Musharraf's famous four-point proposals, Mr. Khan shot back, 'They gave me a visa even though they considered me as enemy number one. Is this is not flexibility?' Mr. Khan praised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said he was on the right track towards finding a solution to the Kashmir issue. 'My impression is that a good environment is being created for a solution to Kashmir, and to take the peace process forward, and the Indian Prime Minister is making all efforts. The round table conference discussed all the issues, and I think they are serious. They are working on demilitarisation, on opening of routes, so these are within the parameters suggested by President Musharraf,' he said. The APHC should have attended the New Delhi roundtable because no Kashmiri should refuse the opportunity to present his point of view, Mr. Khan said. The U.N. resolutions on Kashmir were 'obsolete.' He pointed out they were only recommendations. 'Do you want to keep harping about them until the last Kashmiri is killed?' he asked a reporter who questioned him on this. When the reporters pressed him about India's 'unyielding' stand, Mr. Khan urged Pakistanis to stop thinking of India 'as a municipal committee' which had 'not done this or that.' Describing India as '10 times a bigger country,' he said it would have to keep its 'own commitments' in mind before taking any step and could not be pushed around. He said there was no question of India 'trapping' Pakistan in a peace process. 'We fail ourselves on many occasions, and blame India for nothing.'

 

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