Kashmiri leaders say no to bilateral dialogue

SARINAGAR: As Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invoked Simla Agreement as a basis for talks on resolution of Kashmir issue, the pro-freedom Kashmiri leaders have reacted sharply to Singh’s assertions.

The Hurriyat Conference (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar said the place where the two Prime Ministers were speaking—United Nations General Assembly—“we have 18 resolutions pending in that forum.” “The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can’t do away with the historical perspective of the Kashmir issue,” he said.

He said Kashmir has always been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. “It is an irony that while Kashmir issue is lingering for the past six decades, the Indian leadership still talks about bilateralism.  The bilateral dialogue has failed. The agreements like Tashkant, Simla and Indhira-Abdullah have failed to resolve Kashmir,” Mirwaiz said.

Kashmir, Umar said, is not a territorial dispute between the two countries. “It is purely a political issue which needs to be resolved through active participation of people of Kashmir, who are the main stakeholders,” he said. “It is high time for both countries to move beyond rhetoric and take bold initiatives for Kashmir resolution.”

The Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani said he will react (to Singh’s speech) on Monday. “We will issue a detailed statement over the meeting between Prime Ministers of two countries,” he said.

JKLF Chairman Muhammad Yasin said: “Let all activities in the US end first, only then he would react.” “Let us first see what would be the outcome of the meeting between Prime Ministers of the two countries. We will react comprehensively thereafter,” he said.

Senior pro-freedom leader Shabir Ahmed Shah said though Nawaz Sharif has reflected the true aspirations of people of Kashmir, but his Indian counterpart has “once again annoyed Kashmiris.”

“Speaking at a place where 18 resolutions are pending and stating that Kashmir is an integral part of India doesn’t suit Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I think the Indian leadership is not ready to listen to its conscience,” he said. “But truth would prevail. After Palestine, Kashmir is the second biggest issue ticking at the international level.”

National Front Chairman Nayeem Ahmed Khan said the meeting between the Prime Ministers of two countries seems to be customary. “Though it is a good omen that the leaders of two countries are talking, they should sit together seriously and try to resolve the Kashmir issue. Kashmir is threat to global peace,” he said. “What the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated is not the reality. Bold initiatives need to be taken for resolving Kashmir.”

JKLF (H) chairman and senior Hurriyat (M) leader Javaid Ahmed Mir said that Kashmir is a nuclear flashpoint between India and Pakistan. “Bilateral arrangements have failed in the past and are destined to meet the similar fate in the present circumstances. There is no alternative for both the countries than resolving the main issue. Kashmir is the main reason for hostilities between India and Pakistan,” he said.

Chairman Jammu and Kashmir People’s Freedom League, Muhammad Farooq Rehmani rejected Singh’s speech as “old rhetoric devoid of historical facts and ground realities.”

Senior National Conference leader and MP from South Kashmir Dr Mehboob Beg said despite the pressure mounted on the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by various political parties that he should not talk to his Pakistani counterpart, the former decided to go ahead. “This deserves appreciation,” said Beg.

“Prime Minister Singh has defeated the forces inimical to dialogue. As far as the question of his speech wherein he has said that he was ready to talk to Pakistan on all issues including JK bilaterally, that’s his state policy. Why didn’t the Prime Minister name any other state of India? Saying that JK issue would be discussed as per the Simla agreement means he is ready to talk.  But Simla is not the end; we saw many things after that accord. We saw Working Groups and interlocutors and even General Musharaf’s four-point formula.”

He said even the then BJP leader and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to discuss this formula. “This formula is nothing but autonomy for both parts of Kashmir, which National Conference has been demanding.”

Peoples Democratic Party termed the statement made by the Prime Minister in US as a positive one. “With the process initiated by the two leaders, many things are related: strategic and economic. Unless we clean up the past baggage and engage in a sustained way, there is no hope for peace and progress.  This process is related to life and death of Kashmiri people who have suffered a lot,” said PDP’s chief spokesman, Naeem Akther.

He said even though decades have passed since partition took place, its fallout is enacted on JK every day. “We have divided families, killings of civilians and the siege that state is facing. This all has to end,” he said. He said dialogue has to be sustained and result-oriented.

MLA Langate Engineer Rashid said: “By making contradictory and unrealistic speech, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not only misled the world community but has shown the true face of India’s duplicity to the whole world. He has every right to argue for India’s stand over J&K issue but even worst enemies of Kashmiris would take pity on Indian leaders when they claim J&K as India’s integral part.”

Peoples Democratic Front Chairman Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen said: “So far the meeting between the two PMs is concerned, it has been nothing more than rhetoric. It has annoyed Kashmiris,” he said.