In Islamabad, Hurriyat Flays India, Pak For Denying Kashmiris 'Space'

ISLAMABAD: Coming down heavily on India and Pakistan for denying Kashmiris a place on the negotiating table, Hurriyat (M) leaders on Wednesday demanded political space from both countries, with chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq asserting that the Kashmir issue was “no longer a territorial dispute but an issue of the aspirations of 14 million people.”

 “Our new generation has the will to move forward, but at the same time they are keenly observing the Indian and Pakistani policies vis a vis Kashmir”, the Mirwaiz said during a key session with diplomats, politicians, technocrats, journalists and human right activists in Islamabad.

The meeting was organized by foreign office backed Pakistan Institute of Strategic Studies.

“The context of the issue has to be determined,” the Mirwaiz said. “Although it is a bilateral issue as per the background and the UN resolutions, but now it is more an issue of aspirations rather than of territory.”

He said that the issue had not been “channelized properly.”

 “Kashmiris want to be heard and must be heard,” the Mirwaiz said, asking why the Pakistan government had not been able to give the Kashmiri leadership a place on the (negotiating) table.

 He said that Pakistan could not capitalize on the 2008 to 2010 public agitations in Kashmir which, according to the Mirwaiz, had been of indigenous nature.

“New Delhi has created confusion between grievances and aspirations. They are trying to project the redress of grievances as the resolution of the issue,” he said.

“Now, pro-India parties in Kashmir, like the ruling National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, also admit that administrative affairs and the K-issue are two different things,” he said.

“Though CBMs are the right approach, they won’t yield anything  unless there is a political approach to address the problem,” he said.

Senior Hurriyat (M) executive members Prof. Abdul  Ghani Bhat and Bilal Ghani Lone also criticized both India and Pakistan for not making Kashmiris part of the dialogue.

“You must include Kashmiris in the dialogue process because they are the sufferers,” Prof Ghani said, adding that “Kashmir” was a sentiment.

“Kashmir seeks permanent stability, we are linked to the survival of South Asia,” he said.

“Kashmir is apparently small, but bigger than India and Paksitan,” he said, adding that the prospects were not “bleak”

Another executive member Bilal Ghani Lone asked India and Pakistan to give Kashmiris free space to take their decisions.

 “We are not going anywhere, but give us a comfort zone,” Lone said in reply to a question. Terming Mirwaiz as the accepted leader, Lone said that leaders couldn’t be groomed every day and that all the constituent parties of the amalgam had accepted him (the Mirwaiz) as their leader.

Lone also criticized the OIC, saying it was not capable of taking decisions.

“They don’t have legs to stand on, what can they do for us,” he said

He accused Pakistan of ‘glorifying’ pro-India politicians Pakistan.

Castigating Islamabad for hosting pro-India politicians from Kashmir, Lone said: “We thank you for inviting the NC and the PDP leadership here who are now encroaching upon our political space.”

Earlier, in his opening speech, the former Pakistan High Commissioner to New Delhi,  Ashraf Jahangir Qazi admitted that Pakistan had made some mistakes in handling the Kashmir issue, but stressed that Kashmiris shouldn’t lose heart and should continue with the struggle.

“We have made some mistakes, but you should not lose the momentum,” Qazi said. 

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