January 13, 2001


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The Rediff Interview/ Yaseen Malik

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yaseen Malik appears perturbed with the Indian government's reluctance in granting visas to the All Party Hurriyat Conference leaders for their proposed visit to Pakistan on January 15. The government will take a decision on giving permission to the five-member Hurriyat delegation only after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee returns to New Delhi from Indonesia.

A hardcore militant of yesteryears, he now urges both India and Pakistan to shed their political interests and solve the Kashmir dispute. Malik, who relinquished non-vegetarian food a few years back, now denounces both India and Pakistan for acquiring nuclear weapons ahead of many other priorities.

In Calcutta recently to attend a symposium on Kashmir organised by Trinamul MP Krishna Bose, Malik spoke to Rifat Jawaid.

How optimistic are you about the Hurriyat leaders getting their passports for visiting Pakistan this month?

It all depends on the Indian government. If it is indeed sincere in restoring normalcy in the Valley, it shouldn't hesitate in issuing their passports. The All Party Hurriyat Conference has said that a delegation will travel to Pakistan and we have authorised the APHC chairman (Abdul Ghani Butt) who has already left for Delhi. Abhi tak to kisi ko bhi passport nahi mila hai. Dekhtay hain kya hoga (No one has been granted passports as yet. Let's see what happens).

Do you feel the extension of the cease-fire by the Union government will help restore normalcy in Jammu & Kashmir?

It depends upon the political initiatives taken by the Government of India. The APHC has already welcomed the cease-fire offer by the Indian government.

Why are you insisting on Pakistan's involvement in the dialogue? Can't bipartite talks yield desirable results so far as the J&K crisis is concerned?

The reason we are insisting on Pakistan's involvement is primarily because the latter is party to the dispute -- we are the principal party. One just can't ignore the participation of Pakistan in any talks on Kashmir. Both countries should also talk on other levels like -- secretary, foreign secretary and prime minister.

But when we say Pakistan should be involved in the discussions on Kashmir, the Indian government refuses to accept this proposal. Even when Atal Bihari Vajpayee travelled to Lahore in a bus, he had said he would amicably resolve the Kashmir issue.

What according to you is the solution to the J&K dispute? Do you think militancy would ever serve the Kashmiri cause?

We took to arms when our peaceful movement was being suppressed forcibly. The Indian security forces resorted to all sorts of atrocities to silence the Kashmiri people. When the Congress party assumed power in 1991, Manmohan Singh announced that economic liberalisation was the only way out for prosperity. Soon after this announcement, there was a flood of all sorts of foreign companies in India. But the arrival of these companies could only help 5 per cent of India's population.

I don't think India and Pakistan will survive for a long time, simply because they have entered into a nuclear race. It will result in disaster. India became nuclear and Pakistan followed suit. With both countries now claiming to possess nuclear arms, anything can happen in the subcontinent.

Therefore, an awareness should be created in both countries to exert moral pressure on the respective governments. These politicians will not do anything unless they are pressurised by their people. Both the governments fear that a solution will not help their political cause and they will run out of issues.

Kisi ka apna paisa to nahi hai, logon kaa paisa hai to chalo jitni manmani karna hai kar lo (After all it's not the politicians's money that is being spent. They are taking these liberties simply because its the taxpayers's money).

We need a leader like Yitzak Rabin who sacrificed his life for achieving peace in the Middle East. He advocated peace when no one was ready to believe there could be a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict -- for the same land that was a matter of faith for the whole Muslim and Jewish world. But a man called Rabin came forward and decided to march ahead with the peace initiatives. Before taking the peace initiatives, he had said, "I know my own people accuse me, I may lose power and might even be killed." And this what happened.

After signing the Oslo Peace Accord with Yasser Arafat, Rabin was killed by Jewish extremists and his government lost power in the subsequent election. But even the party which won the election and was against the Oslo Accord couldn't bury the peace process.

Aaj subcontinent mein kisi aise hi leader ki zaroorat hai jo sirf logon ke liye qurban ho jae, apni legacy keliye nahi. (Today, even the subcontinent needs a leader like him who can sacrifice his life for the people's cause and not for his personal legacy). Jayaprakash Narayan had once said 'we have promised the people of Kashmir that you will give them the choice to decide their future. If we are real democrats, we must give this choice even if they decide against us.'

Do you share the view that the separation of Kashmir from India would pose serious threats to non-Kashmiri Muslims?

The only legal link between India and Kashmir is the Instrument of Accession which is a temporary document. Besides that there is no other legal document that links India and Kashmir. Then why impose this secularism on Kashmiris? It clearly means that India needs crutches to survive since its own foundation is so weak. There are thousands of Muslims in Bengal. But no one can identify them from non-Muslims since their clothes, food and culture are the same. We Kashmiris, on the other hand, have an entirely different lifestyle which is not similar to Muslims residing elsewhere in India.

So the talks that the separation of Kashmir from India would jeopardise the security of Indian Muslims is nothing but a misleading thought. If our thoughts are influenced by such narrow-minded reasoning, we will never prosper in future.

Why have outfits like Lashkar e Tayiba stepped up their attack against religious minorities in the Valley lately?

The Indian security forces killed five civilians saying they all were members of Lashkar e Tayiba. One was 58 years old, another 60. These elderly people were burnt alive so that no one was able to identify their bodies. But Allah ka karam tha ki unmein se sirf ek shakhs ka thoda sa kapda rah gaya tha jisse unki pahchan hui (But thank God, one victim was identified since a small portion of his cloth remained unburnt).

It was executed in a well planned manner. Bill Clinton was visiting India and the government had to establish the fact that the Kashmiri Mujahideen were killing minorities. Hence the gruesome killings of the Sikh brethren by the Indian security forces. Today even Americans know who the real culprits are.

Do you favour converting the Line of Control into an international border?

Both Pakistan and India are now considering to declare the Line of Control as the international border. Does that mean that the Kashmiri people are animals? We have no rights to live in this world as respectable citizens. Is it a border dispute between India and Pakistan whereby they will decide the fate of us animals and distribute it amongst themselves?

We are also human beings and have every right to live in this world with dignity. Phir ek kaam karo, Kashmiriyon ko bhi nikal do wahan se (Then do one thing, kick all Kashmiri out of the Valley as well). Let me warn you that the entire South Asia will reel under unrest unless the Indian government decides to respect the aspirations of people of Kashmir. Atrocity can never last long. Even the mighty British couldn't keep India under their control. History would say that many countries were captured by many powerful kingdoms, history also tell us that no emperor was ever able to suppress the will of the people.

The sooner the Kashmir conflict is resolved, the better it will be for the people of India, Pakistan and Kashmir.

Design: Lynette Menezes


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