"No military solution to Kashmir issue, Centre should give up traditional stand"
SRINAGAR: The chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference's moderate faction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on Thursday vowed to go ahead with the Kashmir peace process, which, he said, was sustainable but called for withdrawal of "Indian forces" as the first step to resolving the issue.
The Mirwaiz was addressing a gathering after a grand reception on his return from a 10-day visit to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Pakistan.
The Hurriyat leader said Kashmir was being recognised at the international level as also by India and Pakistan. "We have been saying that the struggle for Kashmir is on at the diplomatic, political and militant fronts. The time has come to consolidate all the three fronts. Those working on the militant front should support our efforts."
The entire Pakistan the government, the people and the political parties were supportive of the Hurriyat's efforts and they were briefed on the Kashmir situation. The Hurriyat supported Pakistan President Pervez Musharaf's remarks. "The first step is withdrawal of India's forces. In the second stage, the line that divides Kashmir should be erased."
Kashmir, he insisted, could not have a military solution. "Hence, the Government of India must give up its traditional stand."
Referring to the attack on the Hurriyat headquarters on Wednesday night, he said: "We are not deterred. Vested interests will not be allowed to play spoilsport."
Earlier, as the Mirwaiz, accompanied by Hurriyat executive member Bilal Gani Lone, landed here, thousands of supporters gave them a tumultuous welcome. Over 300 vehicles, carrying supporters of both leaders, made a beeline for the airport. Both were later taken in procession to Mirwaiz Manzil.
Waving flags of both the Mirwaiz-led Awami Action Committee and Mr. Lone's People's Conference, people chanted slogans "Jeeway jeeway Pakistan (Long live Pakistan) and Mirwaiz kadam badhao, ham tumharey saath hain (Mirwaiz, you go ahead, we are with you)."
Some of the supporters carried photographs of Mushtaq Zargar, founder of the now defunct al-Umar Mujahideen. He was one of the three militants whom the former Union Minister Jaswant Singh flew to Kandahar in exchange for the passengers of a hijacked Indian Airlines plane in December 1999. The Mirwaiz met Zargar during his visit to Pakistan.
The authorities had a tough time regulating traffic. The event was a major show of strength by the Hurriyat, under attack from militant groups for furthering the dialogue process.
Before the Mirwaiz left for Pakistan a grenade was hurled at his residence. Later, the hardline faction of the Hurriyat, led by Syed Ali Geelani, called for a general strike against the visit.