Separatists mourn death of a ‘friend’
27 December 2007
The Indian Express
Express News Service
SRINAGAR: The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has been condemned by separatist and mainstream leaders in the Valley. Most of them termed the assassination a great loss to the subcontinent and a setback to the politics of Pakistan and Kashmir. Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said Bhutto was a great leader and her death was a loss not only for Pakistan, but also South Asia. “Bhutto was a staunch supporter of the Kashmir cause and worked for its settlement on flexible and pragmatic lines,” he said, adding that the design behind her assassination was to lead Pakistan towards anarchy. “We think the Pakistani people and the Government should work together to defeat such forces and create a vibrant and strong Pakistan,” he said, adding that a strong Pakistan was essential for the settlement of the Kashmir issue. Terming Bhutto’s death a personal loss, Mirwaiz said “I met her several times over the years and she always spoke for the people of Kashmir. We are holding special prayers at Jamia mosque on Friday,” he said. Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani also condemned the assassination. “It’s an inhuman act which has put a cloud on Pakistan’s future,” he said, adding that it’s a time when the people of Pakistan should stand united. “The assassination of Bhutto is meant to trigger instability in Pakistan and weaken its foundation,” he said. Mainstream politicians also expressed their shock. PDP patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said the terrible disaster has not only struck the Bhutto family but all peace-loving people of South Asia. “The heinous murder has not only added another tragic victim to the family, but also left the people of the sub-continent in great shock and agony.” Sayeed said the people of India must reach out to their brethren in Pakistan in this moment of grief to strengthen the forces of peace. “For the first time since it came into being, Pakistan is facing an existential threat from within, and New Delhi must respond to the emerging situation by offering greater cooperation,” he said.