UN Resolutions Are There But We Can Also Explore Other Options: Mirwaiz

UN Resolutions Are There But We Can Also Explore Other Options: Mirwaiz

18 January 2013
Rising Kashmir
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Friday said options other than United Nations resolutions can be explored to resolve the vexed Kashmir issue. The Hurriyat (M) chairman said his conglomerate strongly supported the four-point formula given by former Pakistan President, Parvez Musharraf as a “strong starting point” to find an amicable solution. He said they were ready to hold talks with Delhi “but a conducive atmosphere must be created for that”. In an exclusive interview with Rising Kashmir, the first after the seven-member delegation led by him returned from Pakistan in December, Mirwaiz admitted that they met the militant commanders but refused to divulge the names. Mirwaiz was also critical of Pakistan’s successive governments for not having a consistent policy over Kashmir. “While there is no denying the fact that UN resolutions are the basis for resolving Kashmir issue but other options can also be explored. Pakistan was very keen to explore other options. But we have seen as the governments change in Pakistan so does the policy. That is where I feel there should not be a change in the policy. If person “A” has given an idea, it should remain part of the policy irrespective of the fact whether he is there or not. That is something we feel on which there has to be a national consensus,” he said referring to Musharraf’s formula. He clarified that he and his party was for resolution of Kashmir issue and it could come through any formula. “Hurriyat Conference is very clear that Musharaff’s formula can be a great starting point. We never said it could be a complete solution as it mainly talks about the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). We believe that it can be a starting point. The most important CBM Musharraf talked about is demilitarization and if that happens, 50 percent of what we are aspiring for could be achieved. We are of the view that Musharraf’s 4-point formula should be definitely viewed as a very strong starting point for the resolution of Kashmir issue. These talk about political and economic autonomy and we are for that.” “One feeling we got across the board among people and leaders is that if Kashmiris are happy with arrangement other than the UN resolutions, we can look at other options as well provided they address the aspirations and sentiments of people.” Mirwaiz said people as well as political leadership in Pakistan look at the present situation in a different paradigm. “I think there is a realization that the movement in India-Pakistan relations should be strengthened. They believe that better ties with India would go a long way with the solution to Kashmir problem and Hurriyat is not opposed to that. Even at the international level focus is more on addressing it bilaterally. But there is no question of putting Kashmir on back burner. There can be gradual progress on all issues including Kashmir.” He advocated for having stakes in the dialogue process and said that Pakistan needs to take that into account. “It is important as we look towards Pakistan as a supporter. They talk about our aspirations, but they have not provided any mechanism. One is consultation but that does not mean we are on board in the process. Pakistan has to make an effort to bring Kashmiri leadership on the table.” Defending his decision to travel to Pakistan, Mirwaiz said it is an important party to the dispute. “The basic fact remains when we talk about resolution of Kashmir issue, Pakistan is a party. The entire state as existed on August 14 , 1947 is disputed and one portion is with Pakistan and in that context also it is a party.” About the Pakistan visit, he said, “It was a good one, different in the sense that we met government leadership in Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.” “ I could see the realization that only way to address the issue is through political means. India and Pakistan need to move faster and take measures, which are directly linked to Kashmir. One is Indo-Pak track but regarding Kashmir there are many possible CBM’s. Realization of the CBM’s related to Kashmir can be an important factor in terms of moving forward.” The Hurriyat (M) chief said though there is a realization to involve people of Jammu and Kashmir, “they still lack the way of developing a mechanism for that”. “It is a fact that Pakistan says that Kashmiris have to be on board but how to do that, they are not clear. Is it going to be a tripartite dialogue or triangular dialogue, still there is no clarity on that. They are open to many ideas and out-of-box ways to address Kashmir issue. Mirwaiz admitted that he and other delegation members met various militant commanders though in different groups, but he refused to divulge the names. “We met many people. We met people who are part of Kashmir movement militarily; many commanders and leaders. It is in a sense good that many of them share the same perception that Kashmir issue is resolved peacefully and they are willing to support. The gun issue is not the issue, that they cannot go for the other option, provided Government of India is also willing to move forward.” He said Hurriyat Conference sought their support in strengthening the political movement. “They fully understand and support the fact, especially after 2009 and 2010, that there is a transition from violence to non-violence. We believe that has been very important for us and we need to strengthen the movement on political basis and we asked for their co-operation”. LOC TENSION: Concerned over the recent developments on Line of Control between India and Pakistan, Mirwaiz said, “It is unfortunate as it seems that India and Pakistan are back to square one. I believe that whatever they had built in terms of CBM’s, they lost it all. Some people say India and Pakistan should address smaller issues first and then move on Kashmir. Their stand has been proved wrong as you cannot ignore the core issue. It has to be addressed.” He said no CBM will work as long as there is tension on ground. “Time has come for both countries to address the issue of demilitarization. You talk about de-escalation, it is not possible unless you move towards demilitarization. And I believe both the countries are aware of the fact that they cannot afford a war, after all they are nuclear powers. They have to seriously look at addressing Kashmir issue.” BUS SERVICE “It is sad that the bus service between Poonch and Rawlakot has been stopped. It should be immediately resumed. We also strongly support strengthening of CBM’s, particularly the banking system. We told this to Pakistani Foreign Minister as well. People-to-people contact should be enhanced. More initiatives should be taken on ground and these should not be confined to divided families only. It should be based on every Kashmiri who lives across the LOC.” DIALOGUE WITH DELHI Mirwaiz said Hurriyat was never against dialogue “but it cannot be one- way”. “We have always been for meaningful dialogue. Ours is only forum, which took the initiative way back in 2004. We met Prime Minister and others. During these meetings on all tracks we had given suggestion to Government of India (GOI) for making atmosphere conducive, but it is very sad that not a single suggestion has been considered till date. One gets the feeling that an issue such as AFSPA which constitutes an element of a suggestion has become contentious and they are not ready to take a lenient view. So how are they going to come on table for a bigger issue of Kashmir for its settlement?” “For them it has to be compromise which is not possible. I do not see any policy on Kashmir in Delhi. Situation in 2008, 2009 and 2010 should have been a wake-up call for GOI but they refused to listen to those calls. They could have worked in these times, which they term normal. We are open to dialogue. Ball is in GOI’s court. Kashmiris should get a feeling that GOI wants to do something on ground. If they work on our suggestions I am sure a conducive atmosphere can be generated.” Mirwaiz denied that there was any meeting planned in near future. “No we have not been contacted so far and in immediate future we are not meeting anyone.” KILLING OF PANCHAYAT MEMBERS Stating that Hurriyat Conference does not support any killing on the basis of political ideology, whether it is a pro-India party or a Sarpanch, Mirwaiz said, “It has to be looked into. Our concern is that whenever these killings take place without investigation the government blames the pro-freedom groups.” “Kashmir history has proven that killings have taken place at the behest of agencies also. We cannot give clean chit to everybody so the investigation mechanism has to be much more credible and transparent.” At the same time, he expressed concern over delay in delivery of justice to those who have fallen prey to rights violations by the state. “Not only is the issue of Panchs there. We have mass graves and government has dithered on conducting DNA tests so far. There should be a probe by an international agency as government has failed to deliver on this. You cannot be selective as far as human rights violations are concerned.”