All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has declared on Pakistani soil that time has come to say farewell to arms to seek solution of Kashmir crisis, in the boldest ever statement of his nearly 17-year-long political career. He has sought the help of both India and Pakistan in bringing about Kashmir solution through peaceful dialogue process.
Viewed as a dove and a man who could not gather guts to condemn the killers of his father Moulvi Mohammad Farooq, the Mirwaiz stunned his audience at a dinner hosted in his honour by Pakistan occupied Kashmir Prime Minister Attique Khan in Islamabad on Friday evening. He said that Kashmiris cannot afford to “lose more loved ones”.
At the same time, he said that there is a need to "end military hostilities from all sides. These hostilities have caused only problems and kept the solutions in abeyance,” Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told HT over phone from Pakistan.
"We can be successful in this only when the military hostilities are brought to an end by all sides - by the Indian troops as well as by the militants,” he said.
In this regard, he said, "The Hurriyat Conference has started an initiative to talk to the militant leaders in Pakistan and convince them that military option has yielded nothing but death and destruction. "This is equally true of the Indian troops on Kashmir.”
"We are trying to bring them (militant leadership) on board and are hopeful that we will succeed in our efforts. There is a definitive need to this effect but to make it meaningful and purpose-oriented, it is equally imperative that India and Pakistan too should continue in a positive fashion.”
His strong words against those backing the guns and instigating guns came within hours after he was assured full support by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at a luncheon meeting on Friday afternoon.
President Musharraf had said, "The elements hostile to the peace process, which has raised hopes for an acceptable solution, must be discouraged and their attempts to create misunderstanding about Pakistan's position especially in the minds of the Kashmiri people should be strongly countered and rejected.” Pakistan’s official news agency APP had quoted Musharraf having told APHC leadership during the meeting.
Having received a green signal from Pakistan president, the APHC leader said that the path to Kashmir solution is in talks and not in guns.
The Dawn newspaper quoted Mirwaiz having said that the “military” struggle had failed to deliver anything and the only way out was through dialogue”.
These words were a clear rebuff to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who had sponsored a general strike against his visit to Pakistan in Kashmir on Wednesday. The strike was preceded by a rifle grenade attack at Nageen residence of Mirwaiz in summer capital of Srinagar on Monday, which, Mirwaiz said was an act by "frustrated elements”.
He had described that as a "typical repeat of the scare strategy that was used to coerce the people to observe shutdowns.”
Geelani, on the other hand, had accused the moderate Hurriyat Conference leaders of visiting Pakistan for "holidaying". "I can tell you that they would return empty-handed from Pakistan. Their visit is just to holiday and meet people to raise their profile, for Kashmiris, they would bring nothing,” Geelani had told media.
Geelani had also launched a scathing attack on President Musharraf for having kept the Pakistan’s Kashmir cause hostage to "whims and fancies of the United States of America.”
But Mirwaiz has retaliated with equal verbal ferocity on the likes of Geelani.
"We have already seen the results of our fight on the political, diplomatic and military fronts which have not achieved anything other than creating more graveyards and we are not prepared to sacrifice any more of our loved ones, the Pakistani newspaper quoted Mirwaiz having stated at the dinner meeting.
Earlier a three-member delegation of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference met president Musharraf in Pakistan on Friday for more than 150 minutes and sought a middle-path as a solution of Kashmir crisis - different from the stated positions of both, India and Pakistan.
The APHC delegation that began its weeklong tour of Pakistan on Thursday evening, were invited for a luncheon meeting with president Musharraf on Friday afternoon.
“The meeting lasted for two-and-half hours and all issues concerning Kashmir, with a special reference to president Mushraff’s four-point formula were discussed,” Shahid-ul-Islam, spokesman for the Hurriyat Conference, told Hindustan Times.
Shahid-ul-Islam is in const ant touch with APHC leadership, currently on a visit to Pakistan.
According to him, the meeting was "fruitful” and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is leading the delegation has impressed upon Pakistani leadership to devise a way, or help Kashmiri leadership in doing so, to bring about an acceptable solution of Kashmir crisis.
“This should be a stand that is different from the stated positions of India and Pakistan on Kashmir issue,” Shahid-ul-Islam quoted the Mirwaiz having told Pakistani leadership.
Besides Mirwaiz, the delegation consists of Bilal Gani Lone and Abdul Ghani Bhat.
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