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September 11, 2000
Talks must include Pak, insists Hurriyat leader
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Recently released senior All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader Sheikh Abdul Aziz said direct parleys with the Centre could start if the Indian government recognised the Kashmir dispute and the international community guaranteed meaningful talks aimed at its permanent solution.
In an exclusive interview to rediff.com, the senior APHC executive member and erstwhile supreme commander of the pro-Pak Al-Jihad militant outfit said that any meaningful dialogue must include Pakistan since this "vexed problem has a trilateral dimension".
Aziz felt 'nuclearisation' of the sub-continent had added a dangerous dimension, which "can result in devastation".
He ruled out talks under the Constitution, saying, "We too have our party constitution."
Moreover, the Indian government has accepted that Kashmir is under dispute and there are United Nations resolution too, he said. He said the "recent talks offer from the government to the APHC was aimed at deceiving the international community, which has been pressing for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir problem".
"The issue cannot be resolved without Pakistan. Pakistan is party to the dispute. Talks should be aimed at finding a peaceful permanent solution to the problem."
The sheikh, arrested by the army on May 21, 1993 during a cordon and search operation at Pulwama, when chief commander of Al-Jihad, said he was lodged in various interrogation centres and jails till his release last week from the high security Kot Balwal jail.
"I am proud of my past, when I was chief commander of Al-Jihad." Sheikh added, "At that time, the gun was needed to internationalise the Kashmir issue, which was in the cold storage."
The APHC executive member dispelled the impression that the "armed struggle had outlived its utility" and said that the "gun has its role which cannot be undermined."
He confirmed that he had returned to politics and "I will carry on the struggle in my own way".
The sheikh said foreign militants would leave the valley once "India accepts that Kashmir is disputed territory".
He said that the international community had a great role and responsibility to play for settlement of the issue and specially mentioned the United States. "If it can play a role in other parts of the world, why not in Kashmir?"
The sheikh, however, opposed the state's division on communal lines and said, "Its trifurcation will have serious ramifications."
"We are proud of our composite culture and have been living together happily."
He said we would soon issue an appeal to Kashmiri Pandits to return home. "I have already appealed to them to return and live with us happily. They must return.''
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