Pakistan’s ‘cautious’ approach disturbing Kashmiris: Geelani
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the hardline faction of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), has said that Pakistan’s “cautious” rather than an earlier “proactive” approach on Kashmir was causing distress and misery to Kashmiris.
Referring to Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran’s recent statement laying India’s claim on Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Northern Areas, the Kashmiri leader said Pakistan did not show a sense of duty to refute this claim.
“Pakistan should have made it clear that entire Jammu and Kashmir that existed in 1947 stands disputed and the issue needs to be referred to the people,” he said in his Eid message in New Delhi, where he is recuperating after surgery.
He said bitter facts based on justice and universal democratic values needed to be taken into account while exploring a solution to the Kashmir problem.
Criticising the dialogue process between New Delhi and the APHC’s moderate faction,
Geelani said, “They are trying to find a solution without taking into account basic facts. But, I will not become an irritant in their way. I shall only remind them of their duties towards the hapless people.”
Calling for a comprehensive plan that could be implemented in phases and within an agreed timeframe, he has said the “cessation of hostilities and effective confidence building measures (CBMs)” could be adopted only after India announced a permanent solution.”
Rejecting the idea of “maximum autonomy” and “status quo” as final solutions, Geelani enumerated his CBMs including “general amnesty, withdrawal of military and paramilitary forces, demilitarisation of both sides of state, release of political detainees, abrogation of arbitrary and repressive laws, freedom of political activity, free access to the world media, access to relief agencies and negotiated ceasefire by ‘militant’ groups and their involvement in the peace process”.
He said that there was need to differentiate between the core issue that is the “political right of the people” and the “details of modalities for its implementation”.
Curiously, Geelani also asked Muslims to remember their Kashmiri Pundit (Hindu) brethren, who are living in refugee camps in India. “On Eid, I feel their absence and separation badly,” he said.
Geelani also said that they would be welcomed back home and the majority Muslim population would ensure they were not harmed. But, in the same breath, he also said that since the events in Kashmir were beyond Muslims’ control, they could guarantee their safety. He also asked Pundits to reject the Indian government’s plan to settle them in the marked zones and added that it would generate communal tension in Kashmir. “In order to revive centuries old communal harmony and good relations, the Pundits should reject this plan and prefer to settle in their ancestral homes along with Muslims,” Geelani said.
Geelani lashed out at the organisers of the Pugwash Conference, saying his observations were not made part of deliberations. “I had accepted their invitation, but was not issued travel documents by the Indian government. I sent my observations to the conference, but they ignored them,” he concluded.