Pakistan army chief’s Kashmir remarks seem to have come as a shot in the arm of separatists in the valley who on Friday rallied behind him and described him “a person with a realistic stand”.
“The stand of Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif is realistic. Pakistan, which is an important party to the Kashmir dispute, has always advocated resolutions of the issue as per the aspiration of people,” said moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who remained under house arrest on Friday.
On Thursday, Sharif, who described Kashmir as the “jugular vein” of his country, parroted old rhetoric of Pakistan on Kashmir.
“Kashmir should be resolved in accordance with the wishes of Kashmiris and in line with UN resolutions for lasting peace in the region,” the Pakistan general said while addressing a ceremony to mark the Martyrs’ Day at army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
It was for the first time that General Sharif took such a stand on Kashmir after he assumed the office late last year.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq asked India to “also base its politics realistically towards Kashmir.” “India should stop organising so-called polls in the state. Instead, it should pave way for resolution of Kashmir issue as per peoples’ aspirations,” he added.
Around half a dozen separatists groups welcomed Pakistan army chief’s statement.
Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani, who also praised the General, said, “The statements made by the BJP and Congress leaders in response to General Sharief’s statement are nothing but lies. They are spreading lies on Kashmir to keep the people India in dark.”
The breakaway faction of moderate Hurriyat, led by Shabir Shah, said that it expressed hope that “Pakistan will continue to support the movement in Kashmir till it reaches to its logical conclusion.”
Both the Congress and the BJP sharply reacted to the Pakistan army chief’s statement and described Kashmir “as integral part of the country.”