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The Rediff Interview/Mirwaiz Umer Farooq

November 29, 2004

In the second part of his interview, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, leader of the separatist All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, tells Senior Editor Sheela Bhatt that the Indian government should reveal its ideas on how to resolve the Kashmir dispute and that everything will be fine, provided India has a will to move on.

Part I: 'Let Kashmir now talk to Pakistan'

The state is divided in its opinion. The Jammu and Ladakh regions don't agree with the Hurriyat's views or any of your proposals.

We have a clear road map to solve the Kashmir issue. We believe Jammu and Ladakh should be given a separate identity within the system. We can think about a federal structure as many other countries have. We can have sub-central units of Jammu, Ladakh, the Kashmir valley and others.

Pak can't foist unity on Hurriyat

General Musharraf has talked about seven areas. We should identify those areas. Apply the federal (governing) system. Let there be an alliance that should rule from the top.

But Jammu and Ladakh would like more autonomy within the Constitution of India. And you want a solution outside the Constitution.

That's fine. That's fine. Let's talk about that issue too. Nobody is forcing any solution. Let us know what they want and how.

Your critics like you personally but they believe that you can't deliver peace. Even if the government talks to the Hurriyat it will not be fruitful because all of you are not really tested. No one knows your strength on the ground.

When Gandhiji was talking about independence which election had he contested? When Arafat was talking for Palestine was he an elected leader? Did Nelson Mandela fight any election before he was made a leader? It's all about sentiment. We have a problem with the elections held by India. They ask us to give them in writing that the whole of Kashmir belongs to India. That's impossible.

Let India get neutral observers and do without such affidavits before we file nominations and then come out on the battleground. Then, we will prove our worth.

How were your two meetings with then (deputy prime minister L K Advani?

They were historical. In those meetings we were not talking about give and take. There was a realisation on both sides that we have to move forward. We were trying to know each other.

What was next on the agenda?

We were to give them (the Government of India) the list of substantive issues. Our papers are ready.

Is your paper on substantive issues similar to Musharraf's plan?

There are similarities. But you can't say that it's the Hurriyat's plan.

What do you think of General Musharraf's plan?

There are so many possible solutions to Kashmir. So many ways out. We, all of us, should sit down and talk.

What are the good points of Musharraf's plan?

For the first time Pakistan has said that whatever will be the solution it will be concerning the whole of Kashmir including the Northern A=reas. Till yesterday, Pakistan was saying that Azad Kashmir belongs to them.

Indo-Pak Peace Talks: Full Coverage

The second strong point was that he said for the first time that give all kinds of options to Kashmiris. He said let them decide about independence, joint control or autonomy of Kashmir. The Hurriyat will come out with a plan. India should also come out with their plan. Let's all meet and talk.

India's biggest concern is cross-border terrorism. India claims that Pakistan must stop the sponsorship of terrorism.

Look, everything will be fine, provided India has a will to move on. The first step is -- the Government of India should stop harping that Kashmir is an integral part of India and Kashmir is that and is not that.. etc, etc. India should come out open with their ideas. Whatever is not acceptable to India, Kashmir and Pakistan should be kept aside, and move ahead with something that is acceptable to all.

Nothing has come out so far which is acceptable to all.

Will come. Will come. Something will come out. Maybe, in two years' time. Till a few months back, Pakistan was only talking about the UN resolution. Right? Today they are proposing something new. They have just moved ahead. The Hurriyat was talking about tri-party talks. Now we are talking about triangular talks.

The Government of India is just not opening up. They should also, display some flexibility na? You can't clap with one hand.

Are you ready for the third round of talks with the Centre?

It will be more helpful if we meet New Delhi after we come back from Pakistan. We will have substantive things to offer to Manmohan Singh.

But your visit has not been approved by the government.

No. I don't think it's rejected. I will be going to Pakistan. Wait and watch.

Photograph: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images
Image: Uday Kuckian

The Rediff Interviews

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