The India-Pakistan peace process is likely to be disrupted if the hanging of parliament terror attack convict Mohammed Afzal Guru was carried out, said Yasin Malik, chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).
Malik has reportedly appealed to President APJ Abdul Kalam to consider the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue and the importance of the ongoing peace process with Pakistan while deciding Afzal's clemency petition. This could have a major impact on Kashmir, he said.
Speaking to the BBC Hindi Service on Sunday, Malik said he had also appealed to the Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to commute the death sentence of Indian national Sarabjit Singh, who was sentenced to death by Pakistan's Supreme Court on charges of spying last year.
"I would not like to go into the fairness or unfairness of the Supreme Court decision on Afzal Guru. I would appeal to President Kalam of India to commute the death sentence of Afzal, because if he is hanged, then this could lead to disruption in the two-year-old peace process going on between India and Pakistan, and the youth of Kashmir would only be romanticised with terrorism, if the Indian government were to implement the Court order," Malik said.
He added: "I would like to remind the Indian government that Kashmir has been a conflict zone since 1947 and the ongoing peace process has led to some hope, for which Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) are providing life saving oxygen.
"Now at this juncture if a hanging takes place, it would only act as a big spoiler for the process. It would only add to disillusionment among the people of Kashmir, who would then not be interested in the process.
"It was initiated by (former prime minister) Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whom I call the architect of this process, and has been taken forward by present Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. President Musharraf also has been playing a major role in this process. Leaders from both sides have a chance of showing pragmatism - Indian government should commute Afzal's sentence and Pakistan should commute Sarabjit's death sentence."
Asked if it was justified to seek pardon for a convict who had been sentenced to death by three courts, the JKLF leader replied: "Afzal was neither involved in the conspiracy nor in the execution of the attack, as the main accused wanted in this case are not in the country.
"However, I do not want to go into legal details. Now the president of India has a chance to respect the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue along with the delicate political situation there. I really hope that President Kalam would consider all these complexities while dealing with the petition.
"I do not want to politicise the issue also because if we start getting into pros and cons, then the Kashmiris can also ask for justice to the families of more than 100,000 innocents killed by the armed forces during the past two decades.
"Nobody should forget that the hanging of Mohammad Maqbool Bhatt in 1984 changed Kashmir forever. Within four years of Maqbool's hanging, such a movement erupted and since then, during the past 16 years more than 100,000 innocent Kashmiris have lost their lives.
"I am myself a product of the post-Maqbool hanging movement. I have no hesitation in saying that we Kashmiris had a history of peace ever since mankind came into existence, however the hanging changed the history of Kashmir. Since then more than 50,000 youths picked up guns.
"It is up to the Indian government to decide whether it wants to continue with the peace process and return to, in its own words, normalcy in Kashmir. If the government decides to recommend the commutation of Afzal's death sentence, it would be able to restore more confidence in the people of the valley, and if it does not, then I have already given the example of the 1984 hanging of Maqbool Bhatt."