JKLF chief urges Vajpayee to further J&K peace process
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik has written an open letter to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee urging him and his party to cooperate with the government in furthering the Kashmir peace process rather than hobbling it arguing that it was the best way out to bring peace and promise to the troubled region of South Asia, Kashmir, in particular.
Yasin Malik who was among the first to bring the gun to Kashmir in 1980s and first to renounce it in 1994, in his letter has said that BJP's changed tack may complicate the matters and a great opportunity of keeping the peace process on track may be lost.
JKLF chairman's letter- first of its kind ever written by any separatist leader to any Indian leader- has come three days after his "march for freedom", which he had named "Safar-e-Azadi", was forestalled.
The letter circulated to the media on Wednesday, regretted that the present UPA Government at the Centre has not taken the matching initiatives that Vajpayee had taken during his tenure as Prime Minister. "It is a fact. The present government in Delhi is yet to take the bold and decisive initiative to seize the present moment and move it towards a good faith public peace process that is institutionalized and includes all stakeholders in India, Pakistan, and the people of Kashmir – who are the primary party concerned."
It goes on to urge Vajpayee, "As a leader of the leading opposition party in India you have a great opportunity to shape the course of events. I fear that domestic politics and a return to short-sided parochialism within India may once again be entering into the dynamic surrounding the Kashmir issue. If so, it will be at a great cost to the people of South Asia who deserve a just and lasting peace for their future. From all sides, within India, Pakistan and Kashmir, we must not allow the present opportunity to be lost to the dynamics of domestic politics and the trivial diktats of playing to the gallery."
In this context Yasin has referred to the "path-breaking journey" of Vajpayee's Lahore journey in February 1999; holding of talks with Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen; announcement of the Ramzan ceasefire in November 2000; inviting president Musharraf for talks and then the great initiative of starting the current peace process in April 2003, wherein Vajpayee had extended the Indian hand of friendship to Pakistan at a public meeting in Srinagar.
"Today, the people of South Asia are in need of precisely the type of visionary steps you have heralded in the past. While events often took unpredictable turns, throughout your tenure as prime minister you have consistently tried to create openings and take bold steps. Despite many upsets, you still persisted. From my side, I welcomed every instance when there was a serious initiative from India or Pakistan and I worked to achieve its success."
Yasin Malik said, "For this reason and with deep humility, I would like to encourage you to articulate, urge and support the type of visionary and bold move that is needed today from the present government in Delhi to ensure that the ongoing peace process moves forward, becomes institutionalized and inclusive and gains in seriousness. I have no reason to believe that such high expectations of statesmanship and of a constructive engagement are misplaced. I say this, with full awareness of your contribution and investment of time, thinking and exercise of political will towards the achievement of a resolution of the Kashmir Issue."