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Mixed response to Musharraf's proposals

His Kashmir plan evoked positive response from politicians, but hardliners are angry over what they fear as the 'final sellout'.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 14:38 IST

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's four-point Kashmir plan, outlined in a television interview, evoked positive response from mainstream politicians and moderate separatist leaders, though hardliners are angry over what they fear as the 'final sellout'.

Omar Abdullah, president of the National Conference (NC), which is the largest single party in the 87-member Kashmir legislative assembly, said "Musharraf's proposals carry weight and India must response positively to them".

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, the chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, who is also the chairman of the Awami Action Committee once seen as 'the staunchest Pro-Pakistan party in Kashmir', said, "India should respond to the Pakistan flexibility and ease the sufferings of the people in this part of Kashmir. If that doesn't happen, concessions by only one party won't be of any help."

The Muzaffarabad-based United Jehad Council (UJC), which is the conglomerate of various guerrilla groups fighting for Kashmir's separation from India, in a statement faxed to a local news agency here termed Musharraf's proposals as "a unilateral concession".

The UJC has further said, "Kashmiris cannot compromise on their right of self-determination. Options like the joint control can only be accepted if they are a stepping stone for the right to self-determination".

Syed Ali Geelani, the chairman of the breakaway Hurriyat group, has convened a press conference here Thursday to formally announce his response to Musharraf's proposals.

Sources close to Geelani, however, told the agency that the hardline separatist leader is "disappointed and disgusted at Musharraf's decision to give up Pakistan's claim on Kashmir".

In a queer twist to the situation, the former chief minister and patron of the NC, Farooq Abdullah, who once wanted India to cross the Line of Control between the Indian and Pakistan parts of Kashmir in order to "give a hot chase to the militants", criticised New Delhi for "taking Kashmiris for granted".

Speaking at the birth anniversary of his father and founder of the NC, late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, here, Abdullah said, "Indian leaders have failed to give justice and rights to Kashmiris.

They have taken us for granted and are under the delusion that we will always remain their slaves".

Interestingly, the common man here doesn't agree there is anything new in Musharraf's proposals and believes these proposals would mean anything only when India responded positively to them.

"He has said this even one year earlier. Let us wait till India responds to these proposals. Till such times, it is just one hand trying to clap", said professor Muzaffar, who teaches at a local college here.

First Published: Dec 06, 2006 14:18 IST