Taliban Can Come If Army Remains Present, We May Become Irrelevant: Mirwaiz

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 ‘Armed Wave Can Engulf JK If India-Pak Don’t Move By 2014’

SRINAGAR: Conceding that Kashmir was not at the top of the Pakistan government’s priorities right now, the chairman of the Hurriyat (M), Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, on Thursday said that if New Delhi and Islamabad fail to come to an agreement on the issue by 2014, the state might witness a “new and deadly wave” of armed insurgency.

The Mirwaiz came down hard on what he described as India’s obduracy and “wait and watch policy, saying that the militant leadership would follow suit if India brought flexibility to its approach.

“During our Pakistan visit, we felt that if India and Pakistan do not come to terms on the longstanding issue of Kashmir by 2014, a new and deadly wave of armed struggle could sweep over the region,” the Mirwaiz told an international news organisation.

“This tide could engulf India as well,” he said.

“Obviously, the US will leave Afghanistan only after setting up a framework of peace, and what other battle field is left there afterwards except Kashmir,” he said.

The Mirwaiz said that due to its internal problems, Pakistan did not have Kashmir at the top of its agenda right now, but said that it could not wash its hands off the issue completely.

“If the anger of the people here does not subside, and the military continues to remain present, Taliban and other armed groups could make an entry,” he said.

“Politicians in Kashmir, including the chief minister of the state have been demanding mere amendments in the military’s powers,” he said. “This is a small step, and New Delhi is intransigent even on this.”     

“The region is undergoing a change, and if nothing moves with respect to Kashmir within the next year-and-a-half, there will be such a tide of armed insurrection that the words of people like us will carry no weight,” he said.

On being asked what he had gathered from talks with militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba or the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen during the Pakistan visit, the Mirwaiz said: “The militant leadership too is watching the situation. I think if the government of India gives up its traditional obduracy on the Kashmir issue, the militant leadership too will show flexibility.”

“By harassing the youth here, the police and the army are pushing them back to violence,” he said. “We (the Hurriyat (M) feel that in the present situation, armed resistance is not being accepted by the world. But where will our youth go when all democratic avenues have been closed on them?”

When asked whether the Hurriyat (M), which believes in talks and the peace process, would support the Taliban if they came to Kashmir, the Mirwaiz said: “If extremist forces gain the upper hand, quarters believing in talks and the peace process will become irrelevant.”

“Then there will be no question of whether we support them or not – it will simply be the greatest challenge for the government of India,” he said.

To a question on elections and government formation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Mirwaiz said: “India has not been able to dilute the Kashmir issue despite elections and government formation.”

“It is the masses who drive the movement (for freedom) here, and the problems of the people cannot be ignored,” he said.

“The people are with the movement, and if they vote on issues like power, roads and water, no one can hold them guilty,” he said.

“At the international level, India is trying to project elections in Kashmir as a substitute for the right of self-determination, but all these bids have failed in the past, and will continue to do so in the future as well,” he said.

Hurryat to Visit China Next

The chairman of the Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, on Thursday said that after its Pakistan tour, his alliance would undertake a visit to China.

“Certain political parties in Pakistan are in contact with Chinese diplomats,” he said in an interview. “Having already visited Pakistan, a delegation of the Hurriyat (M) will undertake a visit to China in the near future.”

“We will garner diplomatic support from wherever we can,’ he said.

Being in control of the Aksai Chin region, a large portion of the Jammu and Kashmir state, China had recently escalated its row with India by refusing to stamp visas on the Indian passports of the state’s residents.

It issued stand-alone or stapled visa documents, ostensibly to show that it did not consider Jammu and Kashmir an integral part of India, a move that separatists in the valley lauded wholeheartedly.

 

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