SRINAGAR: While there is a lot of anger brewing within many circles in Pakistan over Kashmir not having been specifically mentioned in a joint statement issued after a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on July 10 on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in the Russian city of Ufa, pro-freedom leaders in India-held Kashmir are “disappointed” at the omission of the Kashmir issue from the statement.
According to the joint statement, the two leaders “agreed that India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues”.
Syed Ali Geelani, a pro-Pakistan leader and Chairman of Tehreek-i-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir, rejected the Ufa statement and said Pakistan’s stand appeared to be “wavering” and “inconsistent” in recent times.
“First they [Pakistani leaders] say that Kashmir is the core dispute, but when they meet Indian leaders they do not even mention it. This is sheer inconsistency,” the octogenarian Kashmiri resistance leader told Dawn.com over phone.
Like Mr Geelani, moderate Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Maulvi Umar Farooq also asserts that Kashmir remains the core issue between India and Pakistan and that its resolution guarantees a lasting peace and prosperity in the South Asian region.
“I have said it earlier too that 26/11 [Mumbai attacks] is not the core issue between India and Pakistan. The core issue is Kashmir. I feel there is a lot of scepticism around the Ufa joint statement in Kashmir, but resumption of dialogue between the two sides is a good beginning nevertheless,” the Mirwaiz said, adding: “Progress on Kashmir issue holds the key”.
Talking to Dawn.com, he said no-one could imagine that Pakistan would sideline the Kashmir issue or Kashmiris for that matter. “India and Pakistan should have mentioned Kashmir in their joint statement, but I believe they perhaps wanted to create right kind of atmospherics for trust building and confidence before moving forward on a sensitive and core issue like Kashmir,” he said. The joint statement also said: “The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. The two leaders exchanged views on issues of bilateral and regional interest.”
After the joint statement, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said at a press conference in Islamabad that Mr Sharif and Mr Modi had agreed to revive the Track-II dialogue on long-standing issues between the two sides, including Kashmir.
Although Mirwaiz Farooq is not averse to the back-channel diplomacy on Kashmir, he said: “There has to be a forward movement on the front channel as well. We understand Kashmir is a sensitive issue.”
Mohammad Yasin Malik, chief of pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), told Dawn.com that every Kashmiri was disappointed at the joint statement.
“We [Kashmiris] have a genuine right to raise this question. Do we [Kashmiris] count for nothing? Our four generations have suffered; we are paying a colossal human cost of the continued conflict. We believe that India and Pakistan will have to first resolve the Kashmir dispute, with Kashmiris being a principal party to it, and then move forward on secondary issues like trade, travel, tourism, etc,” he said.
Syed Ali Geelani, the chief of his own faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, further said that India and Pakistan could not achieve peace unless they resolved the Kashmir dispute.
Mr Geelani was the only Kashmiri leader who had openly rejected a four-point Kashmir formula proposed by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in December 2006.
Meanwhile, the JKLF passed a resolution on July 14 rejecting the Ufa joint statement for not mentioning Kashmir. “The august representative meeting terms the peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir issue inevitable and pivotal for peace and stability of South Asia. This meeting also emphasises on the need of inclusion of Kashmiris as principal party in Indo-Pak talks on Kashmir..,” the resolution reads.
Published in Dawn ,July 16th, 2015