Hurriyat Begins Consultations Ahead Of Pak Visit

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SRINAGAR (ONS) – Hurriyat Conference (M) Tuesday added a new dimension to the on-going freedom movement in Jammu and Kashmir by linking it with the state’s economic independence. Asserting that economic independence was a precursor to state’s political freedom, the separatist forum’s chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, hinted at formation of an Economic Advisory Council to lend an impetus to the movement.

Kick-starting a “comprehensive interface” with the civil society and trade organizations ahead of the conglomerate’s upcoming weeklong visit to Pakistan, Mirwaiz said it were not merely the political rights of Kashmir that had been usurped, but there had been concerted efforts to cripple the state’s economy as a design.

Expressing grave concern over the sustained attempts being made by New Delhi to make Kashmir a totally dependent economy, Mirwaiz said he had a detailed discussion with the business fraternity to form EAC in Jammu and Kashmir for which an announcement would be made soon. 

Reiterating the well-known stand of the Hurriyat Conference on the Kashmir dispute, Mirwaiz said either the issue should be resolved on the basis of the Resolutions passed by the United Nations Security Council or the three principal stakeholders in the dispute – India, Pakistan and Kashmiri people should strive for such a solution which should conform to the wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat Conference had not embarked on its struggle with a begging bowl in hand nor was the cross-Line of Control trade the only solution to the Kashmir dispute although these aspects certainly had a bearing on it.

“The cross-LoC initiative had been taken as a major confidence building measure as part of the efforts aimed at the final resolution of the political issue. But there is need to see whether the main stakeholders have in any way benefited from the initiative or they have been rendered into mere middlemen,” he said.

Hurriyat (M) chairman said he would raise the issue with the Pakistan government during the upcoming visit. “The initiative had been seen as an attempt to push the Kashmir issue to the back-burner. A section of Pakistan establishment may be of that view,” he said, adding the Hurriyat visit could be followed by visits by trade bodies and other groups as well.

Admitting that lapses had happened, Mirwaiz said there was need to ponder over them. He said the proposed visit was taking place after a gap of four years during which several changes had also occurred. He said the Hurriyat was not against dialogue but there was need to create a conducive ambience to make the process purposeful.

On today’s meeting held at the Rajbagh headquarters of the conglomerate and attended by more than trade associations besides Hurriyat (M) leaders, Mirwaiz said its purpose was to ascertain the views of conscious class of the society so as to understand the Kashmir issue in its proper perspective. He said that it would help the conglomerate to formulate an effective strategy which would help towards solving the dispute.

Speaking on the occasion, various trade leaders said Kashmir’s political freedom was incomplete without its economic independence. New Delhi, they said, had not only usurped the political freedom of the Kashmiri people since 1947, but made sustained attempts to paralyze and cripple the state economy as a design. They said such oppressive and exploitative polices were a matter of serious concern and unacceptable to the people of the state.

The traders said that the exploitation of  Kashmiri resources continued unabated including the water- main source of power. They further said that restricting the LOC trade was done to leverage out the political mileage out of it. They added in reality Kashmiris were not benefitted from the LOC trade. They urged steps to make LoC trade beneficial and profitable and to give it the status of freed trade.

Noted industrialist and former chairman of Federation Chamber of Industries, Kashmir, Shakeel Qalander, welcomed the upcoming Hurriyat (M) visit to Pakistan and urged the conglomerate to ascertain the views of trade fraternity ahead of it. He underscored the imperative of economic independence for political freedom. He urged the Hurriyat (M) leadership to ensure transparency during the Pakistan visit. He also stressed the urgency for putting up a united face.

The Kashmir Economic Alliance chairman, Muhammad Yasin Khan echoed the sentiments of Hurriyat saying political freedom was meaningless without economic freedom. He accused the central and state governments of trying to cripple Kashmiris by illegally occupying the natural resources of the state, particularly its water resources. He said the solution of Kashmir issue was imperative for solution of other issues.

Welcoming the consultation process, the Traders United Front president, Muhammad Sadiq Baqqal, said the government of India had illegally occupied the water resources of Kashmir. He lamented that the cross-LoC trade was being used for drawing political mileage without actually benefiting the Kashmiri society. He stressed renegotiating the Indus Water Treaty and initiation of more CBMs like communication, banking and travel facilities. 

The KEA general-secretary, Sirajuddin, said the trading community would play its role in solution of the issue. He said the forward movement on economic issues was important till final resolution of K-Issue. He asked the Hurriyat to make its agenda of Pakistan visit public to make it more transparent. Leading business leaders and social activists, Dr Mubeen Shah and Jan Muhammad Koul also spoke on the occasion. (With inputs from KNS)

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