March 2008 News

Zardari draws flak for statement on Kashmir issue

2 March 2008
The Hindu

Chennai: Terming it as “irrelevant” most leaders have condemned it stating that Kashmiris had not started the freedom movement on his (Mr. Zardari’s) permission. They exuded confidence that the struggle could go on without further support from Pakistan. “He [Zardari] has spoken out of mindset and the mindset of his party. And this is not going to sideline the Kashmir issue, which has the firm strength of lakh of sacrifices laid down by our youth. Pakistani people still support our cause, so Zardari’s statement is not going to affect the Kashmir cause,” said chairman of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Geelani. Mr. Zardari, while speaking to Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme, had said: “Kashmir issue should be left aside for future generations to solve and right now India and Pakistan should focus on improving the bilateral relations by strengthening trade and economic ties.” Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Muhammad Yasin Malik said that nobody would be allowed to overlook the sacrifices of the Kashmiris. “Since 1947, three generations of Kashmir have been sacrificing their lives for resolving the Kashmir dispute. The past 18 years have produced thousands of orphans and widows for the cause. How can anyone forget the sacrifices,” Mr. Malik said. He said he supported the India and Pakistan friendship. “But the two countries cannot do so by suppressing the Kashmir dispute. It is imperative for India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute,” Mr. Malik said. Senior leader of the moderate Hurriyat Conference Shabir Ahmad Shah, while terming the statement irrelevant, said that it was yet to be determined whether Mr. Zardari’s statement had the official sanction of his party. “Zardari is out of power as yet. How can his statement carry weight? Our [Kashmir] movement can still go on even if Pakistan withdraws its support, as ours is an indigenous movement,” he said. The Hurriyat has called a special meeting in this regard to discuss the issue. “India and Pakistan are at loggerheads only on the Kashmir issue, and this has been the only cause for the distances between the two countries. Until the Kashmir issue is solved, the distances would not vanish,” said acting chairman of the Hurriyat Moulana Abass Ansari. “We will be meeting tomorrow to discuss on this, as other issues between India and Pakistan can’t go, until they solve the Kashmir problem.” Chairman of the People’s Conference Sajad Gani Lone has appealed to the people to protest against Mr. Zardari for his “idealistic statement.” “Kashmiris have given one lakh sacrifices for the freedom movement and there was no support from Pakistan. And Zardari has no right to speak on the Kashmiri issue as Kashmiris have not initiated the movement on Zardari’s asking,” he said. “I appeal to people to protest against Zardari’s statement.” Strongly criticising Mr. Zardari for his statement, general secretary JKLF (Rajbagh faction) Muhammad Saleem Nanji said that the Kashmir issue was not the “legacy” of the PPP that could willingly keep it aside. “We strongly condemn Zardari’s unrealistic statement. This gives an indication about his political bankruptcy. And we have not given him mandate on our issue,” he said. Islamic Student’s League leader Shakeel Bakshi said, “Pakistan’s military defeat in 1947 and 1971 has not caused any effect on the Kashmir issue. Now what can Zardari’s statement or stand affect our movement. It is not of much importance, as we are fighting ourselves the freedom struggle. The [Kashmir] movement is ahead of all these things.”

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