Sharif’s Victory Springs Kashmir Resolution Hopes

Sharif’s Victory Springs Kashmir Resolution Hopes

12 May 2013
Rising Kashmir
Faisul Yaseen and Towseef Ahmad

Srinagar: The mainstream, separatists as well as political analysts in Kashmir Sunday felicitated Pakistan for electing a new democratic government and welcomed Nawaz Sharif’s victory while expressing hope Islamabad would restart a process of dialogue with New Delhi on Kashmir. State Congress chief Saiffudin Soz said Pakistan elections had finally been completed successfully instead of threats by the extremists. “It is a welcome situation and now that the people of Pakistan have elected a government with majority, the country will not remain a fragile polity,” he said. “India wants to see Pakistan as a democratic and a stable country.” Soz said it was only then that both the countries would have better neighborly relations. “Nawaz Sharif has already shown his culture and taste for resolving the issues between the two countries by initiating dialogue,” he said. “We are now going to enter into an era of reconciliation and a process of relations with Pakistan will receive a flip.” Welcoming the successful completion of general elections in Pakistan, opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed expressed hope that establishment of a stable and liberal government in Pakistan would help pick up the threads of peace process once again. He said a democratically elected stable government in Pakistan was a critical element in carrying forward peace process and Jammu and Kashmir had the highest stake in its revival. Complimenting the people of Pakistan for giving democracy a big boost by voting in large numbers in an atmosphere marred by threat of violence, Sayeed said it augured well not just for the interests of Pakistan but could as well impact Indo-Pakistan relations in a positive manner. He said Sharif had been one of the architects of composite dialogue between the two neighbours and his return to power had raised hopes of an earnest and sincerely follow up to the initial progress made on it. Sayeed said lack of progress on Kashmir resolution had partly been attributed to instability in Pakistan but with the arrival in office of a new government to be led by a known votary for good relations could transform the situation and the two countries need to capitalize on it. He said the decisions taken previously by the government on taking the travel and trade across Line of Control to the next level need to be implemented with a sense of urgency. “The decision to extend travel facilities to sections of people other than the divided families, opening up of Kargil Skardu road, increasing the frequency of bus services and providing banking and other logistical backup for LoC trade has been taken more than two years back and these need to be implemented,” Sayeed said. Referring to his recent meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sayeed said he had got an impression that a successful conclusion of elections in Pakistan could facilitate revival of dialogue and implementation of J&K-specific CBMs. He expressed hope that Singh and his new counterpart in Pakistan would respond positively to the sentiments of the people in the two parts of the erstwhile State and take measures for early resumption of composite dialogue with special focus on the problems of J&K resulting from hostility between the two countries. Felicitating the people of Pakistan, ruling National Conference (NC) Provincial President Kashmir Nasir Aslam Wani said there was a rebirth of democracy in Pakistan and he hoped that the new government would start an era of friendship with India. “Just like we witnessed militancy for the past 24 years, they too are witnessing militancy and want to get rid of it,” Wani said. “I am hopeful that dialogue restarts between Indian and Pakistan as Sharif had initiated it in his previous tenure as the prime minister.” He said peace in the region was necessary for Kashmir and added that Sharif was not responsible for the Kargil war between India and Pakistan. “It was not because of Sharif,” he said. “There were other factors.” Democratic Party (Nationalist) chief and Minster for Agriculture Ghulam Hassan Mir termed smooth transition of power in Pakistan as a welcome development. “It is good if there is elected government in Pakistan,” he said. “It will strengthen the relations between Islamabad and New Delhi as democratically elected governments always sort out issues through negotiations,” he said. Peoples Democratic Front (PDF) Chairman Hakim Mohammad Yaseen and CPI (M) State Secretary M Y Tarigami also congratulated Nawaz Sharif for emerging victorious in Pakistan elections. They said it was a lesson for Kashmiris that people in Pakistan voted despite tough situation and violence. “The impact of animosity or friendship between the two countries has direct bearing on the situation in Kashmir,” they said. Chairman of Peoples Conference Sajjad Gani Lone felicitated people of Pakistan for coming out to vote in large number while braving bullets and bombs. “Nawaz Sharif has a positive track record about engaging India,” he said. “He is realistic on Kashmir and there will be no pressure on him as India and Kashmir in a good way were not the issues before polls.” Lone said this was going to have a positive outcome. “In hindsight we know General Musharaff and not Nawaz Sharif was an architect of Kargil,” he said. “I hope Sharif picks up the thread from where he had left.” State Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) chief Jugal Kishore said he hoped for better relations between India and Pakistan. “Pakistan should take a decision of curbing terror and move forward with India for the sake of development in the two countries,” he said. “Sharif may or may not have known about Kargil as Army’s command was with General Musharaff.” Independent MLA Engineer Rasheed said Nawaz Sharif’s election was a positive development which had put the argument that Pakistan is government by military to rest. “A strong Pakistan is good for Pakistan, India and Kashmir,” he said. “From Sharif, we expect at least to start a process of dialogue with India on Kashmir and not ignore Kashmiri stakeholders including Kashmir militant groups.” Member of National Integration Council and chief patron of Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party Bhim Singh said he hoped Sharif would work to build a bridge of peace between Islamabad and New Delhi. “I hope he forgets Kargils, his exiles and jails and responds to the aspirations of his voters and supporters who desire peace and harmony between India and Pakistan,” Singh said. As 63-year-old Nawaz Sharif is set to return to power for the record third time with his party Pakistan Muslim League (N) taking an unassailable lead over its rivals, his triumphant comeback has raised expectations among the separatist leadership of the Valley who want him to take the Kashmir issue on priority basis. Congratulating Sharief on his ‘great victory’, the separatist leaders asked him to work for the resolution of Kashmir issue as per the aspirations of the people of the State and “don’t forget Kashmir as it is the national policy of Pakistan”. Hurriyat Conference (G) Chairman Syed Ali Geelani said that support for the right to self-determination of Kashmiris was national policy of Pakistan and Sharif should keep his support at that level. “It has been a national policy of Pakistan to press for the right to self-determination of Kashmiris and it is a responsibility on Pakistan to support our demand. Pakistan is a party to Kashmir issue and they know well what our policy is and should support that,” Geelani said. Congratulating Sharif, Geelani was all praise for Pakistani people who voted despite threats and killings. However, Geelani said the most important issue before the new government in Pakistan would be to address the local issues of extremism and ensure the security of their populace. “It should be the first and foremost responsibility of Sharif to ensure the security of the entire population of their country irrespective of whichever community or religion they belong. Sharif has a responsibility that no person belonging to minority or majority community should feel insecure during his regime. They should engage the extremists in dialogue and make them stop these illegal activities as they (extremists) are cutting the roots of Pakistan,” Geelani said. Geelani said Pakistan being the only nuclear Muslim nation had more responsibility and other Muslim countries pinned hopes on it. “We feel it is necessary that being the only nuclear power Muslim nation, Pakistan should talk about the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Syria and Kashmir. They have an important role to play at the international level,” he said. Sharif has come to power at a time when Pakistan is facing several major challenges including growing extremism, uneasy relations with the United States ahead of the withdrawal of the NATO forces from war-torn Afghanistan and economic crisis. Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq sounding hopeful of Kashmir issue being taken on a priority basis said Sharif had made a commitment that “if he comes to power he will take a lead in addressing Kashmir issue”. “I met him last December and he made a commitment at that time that if he comes to power he will take lead among other things in addressing Kashmir issue,” he said. “Sharif had promised that he will evolve a mechanism to ensure the active involvement of people of the State as principal party to Kashmir issue.” Mirwaiz said the ruling and the opposition parties should come together in addressing the Kashmir issue. “Imran Khan of PTI has also said that they are willing to move forward on Kashmir issue. Both the ruling and the opposition parties should evolve a consensus on Kashmir,” he said. Mirwaiz said the new government should also prioritize in addressing the issues of economy and politics, extremism and other issues. Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) Chairman Shabir Ahmad Shah expressing hope of Kashmir being taken on a priority basis said: “No government will be formed in Pakistan that may try to put Kashmir issue on the backburner.” “Nawaz Sharif during his earlier term as Prime Minister played an important role toward the resolution of Kashmir issue. We hope that he will continue his support toward Kashmir at all levels on same lines,” Shah said. “There is a consensus in Pakistan among the ruling and the opposition parties over Kashmir issue. We hope that they will not forget Kashmir under any circumstances.” Shah said that for the past 65 years, Pakistan had always been proving their diplomatic, political and moral support to Kashmir movement. “It is our movement but all our thanks go to Pakistan, the only nuclear power country that has always been supportive of our freedom movement. We hope that the new government will raise Kashmir issue at various international fora,” he said. Shah said there were other issues but Kashmir remains the most important issue that needs to be resolved on priority basis. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik while congratulating Sharif said that he and his government should not put Kashmir issue on the backburner. “We expect from Sharif and his government that they will work for Kashmir resolution on priority basis. He should ensure active involvement of people of the State as a principal party in the process of negotiations and also try to evolve a consensus on Kashmir between various political and religious parties of Pakistan,” Malik said. He said Kashmiris were hopeful that PML-N chief would try to make negotiations with India institutionalized. “Sharif belongs to a Kashmiri family and we have high expectations from him in addressing Kashmir issue keeping in view the aspirations and sacrifices of the people of the Valley,” he said. Malik said governments of India and Pakistan should now show some magnanimity and without shifting this issue to the new generation act to resolve it on a priority basis. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (H) Chairman Javaid Ahmad Mir while congratulating Sharif on his ‘great victory’ urged that Pakistan government to take a stand regarding Kashmir issue. “We hope that the new government led by Sharif will take a clear stand on Kashmir issue and work for its solution as per the aspirations of the people of the State. We are not averse to the friendly relations between India and Pakistan but our sacrifices should not be ignored under any circumstance,” Mir said. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches law at Central University, Kashmir said foreign policies are designated by the State and the political parties have no more role than posturing it in different ways. “Nawaz Sharif is Kashmiri. So expectations in Kashmir are positive. Being a democratic leader who has a strong opposition, he cannot afford to take a U-turn the way General Musharaff did on Kashmir. Kashmiri vote bank in Punjab is more than 5 million who also play a vital role in his elevation. He remains conscious to keep it intact,” Hussain said. “Even his first decision to designate Ishaq Dar as his forthcoming Finance Minister proves this.” Noor Muhammad Baba, who teaches Political Science at the University of Kashmir said the Pakistan elections were a positive development as it involved a smooth democratic transition. “It will be relatively a stable government and the relationship trust between the two sides should build up,” Baba said. “He has already referred to Lahore agreement and should move on from there.” He said Pakistan is not going to take a confrontational path with India. “We are expecting a cooler diplomacy,” Baba said. He said the 2014 parliamentary elections in India were also important much would depend on how India shapes up in the next elections as coalition governments are coming up in India.