Tuesday, 27 May 2008

‘Pak agencies have hijacked Kashmir stir’ – interview with Statesman

‘Pak agencies have hijacked Kashmir stir’ – interview with Statesman
For Kashmir watchers, the name of Dr Shabir Choudhry is not unfamiliar. A founder member of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, he has actively worked for the cause of an independent Kashmir. He raised the voice for united and independent Kashmir even at a time when majority of Kashmiris were satisfied with their status either within India or Pakistan.
A prolific writer and consistent campaigner of Rights Movement and peace in Jammu and Kashmir and South Asia, Dr. Choudhary who not only contributes to leading Indian and Pakistani English newspapers and has authored over sixteen books on Kashmir, has also done extensive research on the issue of Kashmir and Indo-Pakistan relations.
Born in a small village Nakker Shimali in District Bhimber, Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, he went to England in 1966 like other people from the region. Dr Choudhry who did his PhD on “Kashmir - An issue of a nation not a dispute of land”, is presently Chairman, JKLF Diplomatic Committee, London and also spokesperson for International Kashmir Alliance. The London-based separatist leader, who is also a founder member and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs, regularly speaks at international conferences on Kashmir. He has represented JKLF with various government officials including State Department and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He recently spoke to KAVITA SURI regarding Kashmir and related issues. Excerpts:
Interview with daily Statesman

Q1: You have been associated with Jammu & Kashmir Liberations Front for the past so many years, how far have you succeeded in achieving your cause?

Answer: Like any other political party we had some short term goals and some long term goals. When we set up JKLF in 1977 the Kashmir dispute was perceived as a ‘dead issue’ buried under the ice of Simla in the coffin of Simla Agreement. We wanted to highlight the Kashmir dispute and prove to the world that Kashmir dispute was not resolved, and that people of Kashmir never had an opportunity to determine their future.

Also we wanted to demonstrate that Kashmir was not ‘attoot ang’ or ‘Sha rag’ of any country. It was a disputed state, and its future is yet to be determined. Now, apart from the government of India, every one accepts that Kashmir is not part of either India or Pakistan; and that it must be resolved that there could be peace and stability in South Asia.

We also wanted to prove that it was not a religious dispute- it was not a war between Islam and Hinduism although some communalists tried to project it like this to change the character of our struggle. To us it was a political matter and had to be resolved politically. So you can see for yourself that we have achieved short term goals.

Unification and independence of former state of Jammu and Kashmir was our ultimate goal; but again it was not an end in itself but a mean to an end. We wanted to establish a democratic and liberal society where everyone could enjoy life and security irrespective of social, cultural and religious backgrounds.

Of course we have not achieved our goal of independence and there are many factors for this. One main reason is the role of Pakistani secret agencies and betrayal of JKLF leadership who played in hands of Pakistani agencies. In my opinion and with hindsight and a lot of consideration I can safely say that Mr Amanullah Khan has betrayed the movement. He became hostage in the hands of Pakistani agencies who in turn took over- rather ‘kidnapped’ the entire movement.

It is they who changed the character of the movement by introducing foreign militants and by communalizing the struggle. Once the element of religion was introduced where by people from various countries came to perform what they called ‘Jihad’, it was no longer a Kashmiri struggle for self determination. It was changed in to a Muslim Struggle which in turn alienated the non Muslim population of the State.

Apart from that it helped India to propagate against this struggle by saying that these foreigners on behest of Pakistani agencies are committing ‘terrorism’, and that these ‘jihadis’ will commit terrorism against other nations as their agenda is not only to ‘liberate’ Kashmir. This deprived the Kashmiri movement of much needed international support.

I don’t say that Amanullah Khan did this for money, but he is ego centric person with deep rooted megalomania and undemocratic attitude; and who is fanatic about his personality and publicity. The movement which started in 1988/89 never got national character. Amanullah Khan, who hails from Gilgit and Baltistan, had no plans for liberation of that area or even Pakistani Administered Kashmir.

Is it not ironic that he didn’t have branches of JKLF in Gilgit and Baltistan because Pakistani government would not allow him? And he would not forcefully speak about rights of these people or hold demonstrations in Gilgit and Baltistan to highlight the plight of people living in these areas. His focus of attention was the Valley which really suited the Pakistani establishment.

They dislike me because I like to speak about plight of all people of Jammu and Kashmir; whereas they also wanted me to focus my attention on the valley only. In their wisdom if we talk about problems of people of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan then it will divert the attention away from the Indian side of Kashmir and will help India to get off the ‘hook’.

Whereas my contention was that there are plenty of people to speak about human rights abuse on the Indian side, but there is no one to speak against attitude and behaviour of Pakistan; so we should expose role of both countries.

The struggle lost momentum when there was no movement on the Pakistani side of the LOC. To world it appeared that it was a smart Pakistani move only to dislodge India from Kashmir or at least ‘keep India bleeding’ that they cannot become a threat to Pakistani borders. In other words policy was to keep India engaged there and not any kind of liberation.

Whatever we have achieved the people of Jammu and Kashmir have paid a big price for it. Sometimes people question if it was worth the price, because despite all the hard work and sacrifices outside world still view the Kashmir dispute as a bilateral one, which has to be resolved by them through bilateral talks. In this struggle ordinary people have suffered whereas the leadership have flourished and benefited from it as many have taken this as a business rather than a movement for self determination.

Q2: Today when the world is moving towards concept of solidarity like that of United Europe, do you think your ideas of secession of Kashmir would buy enough public support?

Answer: First of all the term secession is not appropriate in case of Jammu and Kashmir. Secession means to break away or separate, and before some thing can be separated it has to be part of something else. Since Jammu and Kashmir is not legal part of any country so there is no question of separating it.

That apart we don’t believe in isolation. Once future status of Jammu and Kashmir is decided according to wishes of the people, which in turn will bring peace and stability to South Asia then we can all live in peace and cooperate with each other. In fact that will be a new beginning for South Asia. I strongly believe that we have to work together and form an economic union of South Asia in order to meet challenges of 21st Century. An independent Kashmir, we believe, can play a vital role in bringing nations of South Asia together.

South Asia has a great potential, and has an important role to play in world politics. Despite technological advancement in fields of weaponry millions of ordinary people of south Asia are below the poverty line. It is therefore imperative that some resources are channeled to alleviate misery and suffering of the poor people; but that can only be done once we have learnt to resolve our disputes by a process of negotiations and acknowledge identities and rights of others in a pluralistic society.

Once we have learnt that diversity is also strength, and that we as people of South Asia can only make an impact on world politics by moving forward together, by supporting and cooperating with each other.

Nations of the West are moving closer politically and economically but they still have their national identities, they still have their national pride, their cultures and traditions are respected and no attempt is made to invade them or oppress or subjugate them. Once we have learnt to do this in South Asia there is no reason why we cannot have an economic union, and make international borders irrelevant. But we cannot have this with waving gun, or by giving threats. Violence breeds more violence, and threats or use of threat kills friendly atmosphere, and stiffens attitudes.

Q3: Being a Pakistani and also a Kashmiri, when you talk of plebiscite or democratic process in Kashmir, don't you think there is no such thing in Pakistan?

Answer: Please correct yourself- I am not a Pakistani- I am a proud Kashmiri. And article 257 of Constitution of Pakistan also accepts this fact.

And moreover if you consider me as a Pakistani then it means, in your view, state of Jammu and Kashmir is not a legal part of India, at least you don’t consider areas under Pakistan being part of India.

There could be no democracy in Pakistani Administered Kashmir and in Gilgit and Baltistan because the occupying power- Pakistan does not believe in democracy. They can only give what they have. Pakistan was established in name of Islam, but in actual fact it is there to protect rights and interests of feudal lords and military and civil elite. These people don’t promote democracy and liberal views as this is against the interest of their class.

There were more feudal lords, Rajas and Maharajahs in India but after independence India abolished feudalism, because rulers of an independent India believed in democracy and practiced it in the party - Congress. So we can see strong democratic institutions and democratic conventions in India; but in Pakistan we see dominance of feudal lords and army, and strong undemocratic practices which support each other in Pakistan.

When we talk of plebiscite we don’t mean the kind of plebiscite Pakistani rulers have in mind; or kind of plebiscite which they use to ‘elect’ their presidents. We talk of a plebiscite which should take place under some kind of international supervision; and where people of entire Jammu and Kashmir could determine their future without any intimidation or subjugation. By plebiscite we don’t mean accession to India or Pakistan. In any such plebiscite an independent Kashmir must be an option.

Q4: You are a senior separatist leader based in London, how do you see the role of Kashmiri Diaspora in Kashmir (both the sides of Line of Control)?

Answer: Role of Kashmiri Diaspora is not fully appreciated to date. It is they who kept the issue of Kashmir alive, especially during those critical days when after the fall of East Pakistan, entire Pakistani nation was subdued, and their morale was at its lowest. This in turn had a great negative impact on the people of Jammu and Kashmir who hitherto thought that Pakistan will help them to get their independence.

After the Shimla Agreement Pakistani policy towards Kashmir saw a big change and there was a clear move on this side of the LOC to assimilate these areas in to Pakistan. People on the Indian side of the LOC also had their hopes and dreams shattered when Pakistan signed the Shimla Agreement. They realised that Pakistan which cannot look after its own territory is not in a position to liberate them militarily. Also Pakistani government sent a message to Sheikh Abdullah that Pakistan is no longer in a position to help them and that they should think of some kind of compromise.

Result of all this was a defeatist attitude of the Kashmiri leadership on both sides of the LOC, with the Kashmir dispute put safely in the cold storage. On the Indian side we saw Delhi Accord taking place; and on the Pakistani side Act 1974 was imposed with far reaching consequences on ‘Azad Kashmir’ and the Kashmiri struggle.

At the time when political parties on both sides of the LOC were submissive and had practically given up their struggle for independence it was the Kashmiri Diaspora which kept the issue alive. It was us who highlighted the Kashmir issue from different platforms until we formed the JKLF in 1977 in Birmingham, England. I, with help of other young colleagues, set up Kashmir Youth Movement in 1973 to project the Kashmir cause. Similarly there were other groups, for example, JK Plebiscite Front and Kashmiri Workers Association working in different parts of Britain.

Even now our role is very crucial. People living inside the state could be intimidated or forced to change their policy or strategy, but because we live in a democratic and liberal country where we have complete freedom to highlight our cause. This gives us edge; and unlike people living over there we don’t have to project Kashmir cause to please a government or a section officer.

Apart from this because of our interaction with diplomats and politicians of different countries we have enhanced our ability and skills to express and present our case succinctly. Our ability and skills to present our case- verbally and in writing- in its true perspective has been acknowledged time and again.

Last May (2006) we visited New Delhi to take part in Kashmir Conference organized by Institute of Conflict Management where senior nationalist leadership from Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan was present. As a delegation we met Shiv Ji Patel, but after this meeting it was decided that I should represent views of the delegation. And in important meetings with National Security Advisor- Narryan Sahib and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran it was me who spoke on behalf of the delegation-of course afterwards other people also joined in the discussion.

Apart from that we play an important role by having our input from different levels and from different platforms. We critically analyse every move in the struggle and promote peaceful resolution of Kashmir dispute by criticizing all those who promote politics of violence and intimidation.

Q5: How would you respond to the allegations that terror links to Kashmir and now to other parts of India like Mumbai are linked to Pakistani-Kashmiri diaspora in Britain?

Answer: It is not easy to answer this as distinction between a genuine freedom fighter and terrorist is blurred. Let me add that those who throw bombs at the bus stops and in crowed market places, or kill innocent people just because they belong to different faith or tribe are not freedom fighters.

I however lost faith in military solution many years ago, I think it was mid 1990s when we started advocating a peaceful resolution and started speaking against militancy, especially foreign militancy.

As for money going to Jammu and Kashmir or Mumbai for specific purpose of terrorism it is difficult to say. Although ordinary people could be poor but we all know that there is no shortage of money in Jammu and Kashmir, as there is evidence of record building construction during the past fifteen years- in other words some people have benefited from this struggle at the expense of others. To some it is a lucrative business and not a struggle for right of self determination.

Money goes there from various channels and from various countries and not only from Britain. I know millions of pounds have been collected in the past years, and it was not collected to support the militancy but to help victims of the struggle, those who have been uprooted and orphans. No one can collect from Britain to support or promote violence. How much of that money has actually reached Jammu and Kashmir I don’t know. Once money reaches there then practically it is not in control of collectors where that money is used, although charities are under pressure to ensure that no money is diverted for acts of terrorism.

But who can control this. We know there has been a devastating earthquake in Pakistani and Azad Kashmir, and many millions of pounds were collected and sent to the affected areas. Now it has been established that a considerable amount of that money was diverted for other purposes; and victims are still suffering in the camps.

Q6: Has there any monetary help to various groups fighting for the freedom of Kashmir from Pakistani Muslim in Britain in all these years of "freedom-struggle" or violence in Kashmir?

As I said earlier money has been going from Britain. During early 1990s law and order and social structure virtually broke down there. There were no registered charities or human rights organizations, so people had to send money to political organizations that they can organize relief work.

We also sent money to JKLF which in turn established Hamid Blood Bank and other relief work. Similarly other Kashmiri organisations and charities with bigger resources sent money to various political leaders and parties. Idea of some people was to oblige Kashmiri leaders and use their name to further their own agenda and enhance their status. This system has surely helped some people to make space for themselves in politics.

Earlier you asked me about role of Diaspora. Kashmiri Diaspora has made important monetary input and this in turn helped to enhance political standing of some Kashmiri leaders in the Kashmiri and Pakistani circles. Jammat e Islami people have been quite good at this. In fact there has been news about their involvement in Havala matter, as one person is no longer in this it is inappropriate to mention his name.

Q7: With the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir completing full three years this late November, how do you see Indo-Pak relations vis-a-vis Kashmir?

Answer: First of all there is no cease fire in Jammu and Kashmir. People of Jammu and Kashmir are still dying; if it is not a bullet or a bomb of a militant then it is a bullet of a man in uniform, be it in name of fighting terrorists or in cross firing.

This cease fire you have mentioned is between forces of India and Pakistan, and one purpose of this was to silence guns on the borders that Indian and Pakistani army men do not die.

Don’t take me wrong I am not against that. I know each life is important and must be preserved. And this cease fire was an important first step in normalization of relationship between two hostile neighbours. This also helped to save some Kashmiri lives which would have been lost as a result of border clashes.

India and Pakistan have made a considerable progress if we take it that not long ago they were facing each other in ‘eye to eye position’ waiting for orders to eliminate each other. But when we analyse the progress there is no substance to it. No target or no dispute is resolved even when we take issues separately and not directly link them to the Kashmir dispute which is in a way a mother of all disputes.

I acknowledge it is not so easy to make swift progress when we have a long history of animosity and confrontation. Progress so far is limited to visits, people to people contacts and opening of routes etc. I am not saying they are not important, but more could have been done. Even when we scrutinize hitherto progress we note that every thing is not as it appears. Thousands of people have applied to go across the LOC on these buses but we note that buses are half empty. So there is something wrong with the system and it has to be made easier and with less bureaucratic hurdles.

I strongly support the peace process and feel there is no other way forward but to keep on talking to make the desired progress. We have to fight forces of communalism and hatred, and we can only win this if we pool our resources together and work as a team to defeat forces of extremism and violence.

It is good that India and Pakistan are talking to each other, and apparently trying to resolve the disputes. The biggest dispute is the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, future of which is not determined yet. India and Pakistan can talk for ever but they cannot have amicable and lasting solution if they don’t involve people of Jammu and Kashmir in these talks.

My feeling is that these talks will continue until cows come home, or there is a change of government in Pakistan- I mean some kind of a civilian government. My understanding is that government of India will continue with the dialogue- and they have mastered this art of talking without giving away anything- until General Musharaf takes of his uniform. Perhaps they want to have an agreement with powerful President in civilian clothes and not with a man with a gun in his holster. Perhaps they want to give this message that they will feel more comfortable in making agreements with democratic governments.

Q8: Do you think these three years of peace have got some dividends for both the countries?

Answer: Don’t think that I am undermining the progress made so far. I appreciate the hard work and progress made by both countries despite strong opposition and hurdles created by extremists on both sides. My only point is that more could have been done. More progress could have been made by taking people of Kashmir in to confidence, and by making the Kashmir dispute or another issue focus of attention.

I know there are friendly relations between the two countries and there are frequent visits of different delegations from all walks of life. There is a bus service and there is growing trade and business. Also there is opening of routes on various selected points along the LOC; but despite all this three years is a long time. The process of dialogue started three years ago, and many rounds of lengthy meetings but there is nothing tangible to show that they have succeeded in resolving at least one dispute.

This friendly atmosphere and social and cultural interaction had brought people of both countries closer to each other. They have realised that it is in the interest of both countries to live as friends, and that they need more social and economic cooperation and perhaps joint efforts to make South Asia more stable, peaceful and prosperous. South Asia, in view of many experts, have an important role to play in years to come; and for that both countries need to be friends and not at loggers head with each other.

So apart from international and economic pressure on both governments to continue with the peace process there is also pressure from the people because majority of the people of both countries want to live in peace.

Q9: Do you think General Musharraf is in a capacity to deliver some solution to Kashmir?

Answer. General Musharaf not only has hand on all levers of power but ability and desires to resolve all outstanding issues. He certainly does not lack initiative. You note he had put forward more proposals in the past three years than others have done in the entire history of the Kashmir dispute.

It looks that the gentleman is more concerned in finding a solution during life of his government. He doesn’t seem to be worried about a just solution or amicable solution. It appears that he has no concern about desires of the people of Kashmir. All his options lead to division of Kashmir, and we Kashmiris have not been fighting for some kind of division of the state.

Division of the state was imposed upon us in 1947/8. We have sacrificed thousands of lives and suffered so much since 1947 that we can have united Jammu and Kashmir. Although I still champion the cause of an independent Kashmir, but my immediate concern this stage is that the state should remain as one entity what ever the future of the State. But General Musharaf doesn’t seem to be worried about this… all he wants is a solution- it could be anything as long as he gets credit for resolving the complicated dispute of Kashmir.

Although Musharaf Sahib with his uniform and Q league (known as ‘lota league’) appears to be in total control, and has hand on all levers of power, but with time his grip is loosening. Also we must remember that there are other powerful forces in the power structure of Pakistan and they don’t like his Kashmir policy; and it is because of this he wants some kind of solution before his power further erodes away in natural process of democratisation.

Whatever his past and hawkish policies of the past, I feel he sincerely wants to resolve all disputes with India, and wants to have peace and economic stability in South Asia. However I disagree with his approach and his options on Kashmir which all lead to division of my motherland. Many Kashmiris feel that they have been badly let down by this U turn. However sad thing is that despite his u turn on Kashmir and flexibility he has not got much in return; and that will make the peace process difficult.

God forbid if he is replaced with another person, especially in uncertain circumstances, before the Kashmir dispute is resolved then my fear is that the next person will find it very difficult to travel on this path and continue with the peace process. In fact failure to produce anything tangible will strengthen the extremists and make it very difficult to reach any suitable agreement.

Q10: How do you see forthcoming elections in Pakistan next year?

Answer. General Musharaf is a smart man. He knows how to play his cards. He has kept his cards close to his chest, and that still presents him with many options. He is surrounded with problems and opposition parties are also jockeying for positions but in my opinion he will, by and large, have his way. He will be President for next five years, and will take off his uniform because he has quite cleverly appointed his own men in different important positions in the army and feels confident that he can trust them – but Nawaz Sharif also trusted him and so did Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto trusted General Zia ul Haq.

His alliance doesn’t have to be with Q league, there are other interested parties who are willing to lend him support, and why not after all they also want to benefit from rewards of being in government. Apart from MMA, generally known as Mullah Military Alliance, Benazir Bhutto will be more than happy to make some kind of compromise in which chapter of her cases is closed, and she is allowed to return to Pakistan. She might not become Prime Minister but her party could share the burden of governing Pakistan.

Pakistani establishment has over the years mastered an art of winning elections for the party of their choice; and Joseph Stalin rightly said that elections are not won by those who vote, they are won by those who count.

Q11: Recently elections were held in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. How do you see these elections?

Answer. Yes, drama of elections was staged in Pakistani Administered Kashmir in July 2006. Ever since 1947 Pakistani officials appointed puppets as Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers in Muzaffarabad that they can look after Pakistani interests. In the past Presidents were appointed and dismissed by Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and until 1970 there was even no pretence of holding fake elections.

Over the years what has changed is their tactics and strategies, and not their policies and intentions. Islamabad wants to have a total control of these areas for economic and strategic reasons, and for this purpose they have good strategy. They like to pretend that people of this area are independent yet everything is controlled by Islamabad, even our syllabus for schools and colleges is decided by them. What our ears hear and eyes watch is also decided by them. In other words our minds and thinking is conditioned to think in a particular way.

Under the Act 1974 which was prepared by Islamabad and imposed on Azad Kashmir, people who believe in an independent Kashmir cannot take part in any elections; and they are not eligible for any government posts unless they declare their loyalty to ideology of Pakistan.

This is the only constitution, if it can be called a constitution, which was imported from a neighbouring country, and passed by puppets in Azad Kashmir within minutes, and without making any amendment. Act 1974 has made these areas a colony of Pakistan with a legal right to interfere in these areas.

Apart from Ministry of Kashmir Affairs there is Kashmir Council which takes major decisions regarding Azad Kashmir is headed by a Pakistani Prime Minister/ Chief Executive. He also has power to appoint five Pakistanis as members of this Council, and the remaining members are elected by the puppet Assembly of Azad Kashmir. All major decisions, even with regard to promotions of senior officials and judiciary are decided by this Council.

Decisions taken by Kashmir Council become law without even discussing them on the floor of the Assembly; but any decision taken by the ‘elected’ Assembly must be approved by the Kashmir Council which is controlled by and Chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister.

Four Pakistanis are appointed to hold top positions in Azad Kashmir, for example, Police Chief, Chief Secretary, Finance Secretary etc. to ensure that there is a complete control of Islamabad. No Kashmiri is entitled to hold these positions no matter how senior or qualified that person is. These Pakistani officials ensure that ‘elected’ government of Azad Kashmir makes no mistake, and only dance on the tune played by Islamabad.

Rulers of Azad Kashmir cannot even decide what kind of dance they have to perform; Islamabad not only selects tune but also decides what style of dance is required. It must appear that there is no compulsion and that everything is done by complete consent and happiness and in the best interest of people of Kashmir.

On top of all this there is another layer of authority known as GOC Murree to control Azad Kashmir. GOC is an influential gentleman in army uniform who sits in Murree army Head Quarters and keeps an eye on what goes on in Azad Kashmir, and he also has a big say in what happens in these areas.

There is an interesting story that after the recent elections the new Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir thought that perhaps he has authority to make appointments and transfer officials. The Prime Minister made one appointment which annoyed the GOC Murree, so enquiry letter was sent demanding explanation about this appointment. A letter with apologetic tone was sent that the appointment was made by a ‘competent authority’. This further annoyed the man in uniform. He reprimanded the PM by saying that, ‘competent authority is advised not to make any more appointments without first clearing it with this office’.

I hope this explains how ‘azad’ are these areas and what kind of elections take place here.

Q12: Your comments on Gilgit and Baltistan which are legally part of united Kashmir but have been named as Northern Areas?

Answer. Yes these areas are legal part of state of Jammu and Kashmir, but unfortunately these areas are colonized by Pakistan. Many people say that even in this post colonial world Gilgit and Baltistan is a last colony on earth. Soon after achieving independence Pakistan embarked on its policy of getting Kashmir. Due to bad planning and negligence they failed to get whole of Kashmir but they managed to ‘snatch’ Gilgit and Baltistan and areas now known as Azad Kashmir.

After stabilising its position in Kashmiri territory under its control, Pakistan divided these areas in two parts that it becomes easy to control. Later on in its border adjustment with China Pakistan ‘donated’ more than two thousand two hundred square miles of Gilgit and Baltistan to China.

In view of many Kashmir watchers people of Gilgit and Baltistan are denied of basic human rights and still live in dark ages. How ironic that Pakistani governments like to talk about human rights abuse on the Indian side of the LOC, but make no effort to help people on this side where they are in a position to make difference to lives of the people.

This shows what love and affection Pakistan has for people of Jammu and Kashmir. If they really had any care and love for the people of State of Jammu and Kashmir then they should have given full rights to people under its control; and that would have had good impact on hearts and minds of people living on the Indian side.

If Kashmir dispute could not be resolved in near future then, at least, adopt such policies that people of these areas get some relief. And for that they should open all the traditional routes linking Ladakh with Gilgit and Baltistan that people of these areas could also interact with their fellow country men.

Q13: Your comments on Afzal Guru?

As this interview has already become too long I don’t think I can go in to lengthy details of the case. I have in the past written an article where I discussed the case and concluded that there is a wide spread opposition to capital punishment in the world- even General Musshraf had to give in to international pressure and release Tahir Mirza who was given death sentence. It will be counter productive, and will not bring glory to India or its system, or help India to win hearts and minds of the Kashmiri people, and in view of this Guru’s death sentence should be commuted to life in prison.

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