“The Kashmiri people, leadership and the state of Pakistan should prepare themselves for it. Otherwise freedom will remain a distant dream,” Syed Salahuddin said. — Dawn File Photo

MUZAFFARABAD: United Jihad Council chairman and Hizbul Mujahideen ‘supreme commander’ Syed Salahuddin said on Saturday that those calling for settlement of the Kashmir issue through peaceful means were in fact deceiving the innocent Kashmiris, adding that an armed struggle was the only way to resolve the dispute.

Addressing a press conference, he said that experience of the past 65 years should convince any one that only a strong and target-oriented armed struggle across held Kashmir could win freedom from Indian occupation.

“The Kashmiri people, leadership and the state of Pakistan should prepare themselves for it. Otherwise freedom will remain a distant dream,” he said.

The press conference was held at the end of a procession staged by the supporters of Hizbul Mujahideen to mark the ‘right to self-determination day’.

The UJC leader said he supported political movement but was opposed to what he called a fragmented and fractured political struggle. He claimed that about 150 rounds of talks with India had failed to produce anything.

He said it was the armed struggle that had forced foreign troops to leave Vietnam, Algeria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq and once again it was compelling the US and allies to withdraw from Afghanistan.

He said the trans-Kashmir travel, trade of potatoes and onion, internal autonomy or division of Kashmir could not be a substitute for freedom.

According to him, the ongoing Pakistan-India talks and confidence-building measures on trade and travel were a bane for Kashmiris because these were virtually sidelining the core issue. “This goes exactly in line with India’s strategy and can affect the affiliation of Kashmiris to Pakistan.”

Mr Salahuddin appealed to pro-freedom leadership of Kashmir to forge unity in their ranks for the sake of their oppressed people.When asked who was responsible for friction in the ranks of Hurriyat leadership, he put the blame on “fluctuating and inconsistent policies” of Pakistan. “There have been differences in approach of pro-freedom leaders on some issues but a consistent policy from here can end them.”

The Hizb leader endorsed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s reported statement about the Taliban’s spill over into held Kashmir.

He criticised Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf for `backstabbing’ the Kashmiri mujahideen “at a time when India was about to quit Kashmir”.

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