Asif Zardari’s Remarks Annoy Pakistan-based Kashmiris
2 March 2008
Islamabad: Kashmiri leaders based in Pakistan have expressed extreme displeasure over Pakistan People's Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s remarks that Kashmir issue should be set aside to improve relations between India and Pakistan. Convenor of the Hurriyat Conference (M) Syed Yusuf Naseem said that Zardari’s statement was against the principle stand of the PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and his daughter Benazir Bhutto on Kashmir. Talking to etala’at, Naseem said that it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who said “Pakistan will fight one thousand years to liberate Kashmir from the clutches of India.” “Zulfikar’s daughter (Benazir) had played a key role for the recognition of the Hurriyat by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). We strongly condemn Zardari’s remarks,” Naseem said. Farooq Siddique, chairman of a faction of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, termed Zardari’s statement “unfortunate” and “complete deviation from the stand of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto.” He said Zardari has not only saddened the Kashmiri people but also violated the heavy mandate of Pakistani people which PPP has been given to settle the Kashmir issue, not to set it aside. Siddique said, “Kashmiris are the masters of their destiny and we will never accept the dictation of Zardari House and he has no right to talk in such a way which will demoralise the freedom loving Kashmiri people.” Amir Jama’at-e-Islami Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) Sardar Ijaz Afzal said Zardari’s statement “is a bid to undermine the role of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto which they played for the Kashmiris right of self-determination.” President of PPP (Pakistan-administered Kashmir) Chaudhry Majeed said that the “independence of Kashmir is the part of our faith and we are committed to support Kashmiri people till they achieve their goal.” When asked about the statement of Zardari he said, “No comments.” Convenor of Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement (JKSM) and leader of the Hurriyat (M) Altaf Ahmad Bhat said that people of Jammu and Kashmir are the main stakeholders of this dispute who suffered a lot. “To set aside the Kashmir issue while solving other issues with India is a bid to rub salt on the injuries of Kashmiris,” Bhat told etala’at.