Emergency in Pakistan draws flak in Kashmir
"These developments would have a direct bearing on Kashmir. Political instability in Pakistan is bad news for us," says JKLF chief Yasin Mallik.
Imposition of emergency rule by President Pervez Musharraf has upset Kashmiris, who think the "unfortunate" development in Pakistan will have a direct bearing on the peace process with India.
As the media flashed the news Musharraf slamming emergency in his country, a palpable concern erupted in the valley. People remained glued to their television sets till late hours on Saturday trying to know the latest in Islamabad.
"This is an unfortunate development. It means the peace process between India and Pakistan would now be relegated to the backburner. Kashmir cannot remain any priority for Pakistan in such a situation," said Abdul Rahim Rather, a National Conference legislator and the leader of the opposition in assembly here.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been vociferously targeting Musharraf's policies over Kashmir, has condemned the development in the neighbouring country.
"This has brought the army and the people of Pakistan in direct confrontation with each other. I support the rejection of the emergency proclamation by the Pakistan Supreme Court," said Geelani, who is presently undergoing treatment in New Delhi, told IANS in a telephonic interview.
"All developments in Pakistan have a direct bearing on us (Kashmiris) since they are the biggest supporters of our fight for justice," said Geelani, the chairman of hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference.
Chairman of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Yasin Malik echoed the Geelani's sentiments. "These developments would have a direct bearing on Kashmir. Political instability in Pakistan is bad news for us," Malik told IANS.
Muhammad Nayeem Khan, who heads the National Front, a constituent of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, reacted cautiously to the news.
"Stability and security of Pakistan is very crucial to the peace and stability in South Asia. Yes, all of us are concerned over these developments," Khan said.
Politicians apart, the common Kashmiri also appears worried.
"The events in Pakistan have always affected our lives directly. Perhaps no other place anywhere outside Pakistan is as affected by its politics as Kashmir," said Prof. Muzaffar Ahmad who teaches in a college here.
"I was looking forward to tomorrow's (Monday) one-day match between India and Pakistan. My focus has now shifted to what happens in Pakistan (politically). If things deteriorate there our hopes of peace in Kashmir would also evaporate," said Irfan Ahmad, 25, a university student.
"My entire family remained glued to the television Saturday. It is definitely an unfortunate development but that is how Pakistan has been all along its checkered history," said Gulam Nabi, a retired headmaster in Srinagar.