J&K Separatists Not Betting On Obama

J&K Separatists Not Betting On Obama

5 November 2010
The Economic Times


Srinagar: Kashmir separatists are not expecting any miraculous initiative on Kashmir during US president Barack Obama’s India visit even though some of them have called for a strict strike for three days to highlight the crisis. Most of them, however, feel that he would talk about Kashmir in his meeting with the hosts. “We understand that US will neither mediate nor would get involved in the conflict. We are not expecting any dramatic announcements or initiatives,” Mirwaiz Umer Farooq told ET. “We are not seeking any direct American involvement either. We only want US to facilitate bringing India and Pakistan closer so that they resolve the issue.” Mirwaiz, who was recently conferred doctorate, was a few years back one of Time magazine’s 25 ‘young achievers’ of Asia. This led to reportage that the young cleric was perhaps the lone acceptable face to the West from amongst Kashmir’s separatists. “We are basically seeking a sort of assistance, an indirect US involvement in bringing India and Pakistan closer because there is a lot of trust deficit between the two parties,” he said. His Hurriyat is busy in a signature campaign demanding US to appoint “a special rapporteur for south Asia specifically on Kashmir”. The cleric, who is busy fighting a battle with the state government for getting resuming his Friday prayers in Kashmir’s grand mosque, the family’s main seat of influence for a few centuries, says that settling Kashmir is part of US requirement to manage Afghanistan and Pakistan. He talked about various reference to Kashmir by Obama during his campaigning. Even though US Af-Pak envoy Richard Holbrook lacks a mandate on Kashmir, Mirwaiz believes he is working a lot without making it public. “We know it for sure that US is in the picture,” Mirwaiz said. Admitting that US has its own interests in the region especially in India that has emerged as an economic and military power, Mirwaiz said America’s Kashmir policy has not changed. “What we are going to see is a strong diplomatic, may be a covert initiative by America to push India and Pakistan towards a settlement on Kashmir,” he said. Mirwaiz believes that New Delhi should not shun its sensitivity towards involving third parties is managing the problems she faces. “When they have any economic problem they rush to IMF and World Bank but when it comes to political disputes it becomes sensitive in seeking third party assistance,” he said, adding “Kashmir is a dispute recognised world over and it has to get solved with assistance from third parties.”


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