MUZAFFARABAD / SRINAGAR: Azad Jammu Kashmir’s (AJK) political and militant leadership on Tuesday rejected talks between Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers scheduled for this week in Islamabad.
Speaking at a Martyrs’ Day Conference organised by Hizbul Mujahideen, AJK’s Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan on Tuesday declared his government as representative of Kashmiri mujahideen and bound to support them in their struggle against India.
“I assure you that my government is a representative of Kashmiri mujahideen and there should be no doubt in either New Delhi or Islamabad that the [AJK] government is the base camp of the Kashmir liberation movement,” Haider said. He is the first prime minister to attend Martyrs’ Day conference which was held two days before India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is to visit Islamabad for talks with Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The conference was attended by thousands of Hizbul Mujahideen supporters and other militant outfits fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir. “More than 10,000 people participated in the conference,” a senior police officer Sardar Ilyas Khan said.
The gathering is the first in Muzaffarabad since the imposition of a ban on militant activities in 2001 by the government of former president General Pervez Musharraf.
“The time has come to mobilise this government purely for the purpose for which it was founded on October 24, 1947, that is, for liberation of occupied Motherland,” Haider said.
Haider warned that it has become difficult for his government to control the people in AJK “from rushing to the support of their suffering brothers and sisters. Every child, man and woman has become a mujahid and every home has turned into bunker,” he said.
Addressing the conference, the leader of Hizbul Mujahideen, Syed Salahuddin, said that Pakistan should not rub salt into the wounds of Kashmiris by according receptions to Indian officials in Pakistan. “We strongly reject and condemn minister-level dialogues in Islamabad on July 15,” he said.
He said there should be no talks with India until and unless the killing of innocent Kashmiris stops, terming jihad the only way to resolve the Kashmir issue. He said that no dispute of the Muslims was ever settled on the table.
Commanders of dozens of organisations, such as All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Tahreekul Mujahideen, Muslim Janbaz Force, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Harkatul Mujahideen attended the conference.
A planned march in Indian Kashmir to mark Martyrs’ Day heightened tension again on Tuesday after security forces appeared to have finally stemmed weeks of deadly street protests.
Separatists called for a third day of strikes on Tuesday and had planned a rally in downtown Srinagar to remember 21 Kashmiris slain in 1931 by the former ruler of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh.
Police said rallies would not be allowed.
“We have locked down parts of Srinagar to ensure there is no violence,” a police officer Pervez Ahmed said.
Security forces have been struggling to control demonstrations in the Kashmir valley after being accused of killing 15 civilians – many of them teenagers – since the first death, of a 17-year-old, on June 11.
A meeting of local political parties chaired by Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday concluded with a collective call for the state to hold an independent inquiry into the deaths.
July 13 is marked in Indian Kashmir as the day Singh used force to quell protests against his rule, resulting in the death of 21 protestors.
Separatists mark the day as the start of their struggle, while pro-India politicians see it as the start of a democratic era.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been placed under house arrest, while other separatists have already been jailed.
Amid tight security, Abdullah and other pro-India leaders prayed at the graveyard in Indian Kashmir capital Srinagar, where the 21 are buried. with additional reporting by AFP
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2010.
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