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Interview: Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
‘Kashmir is not an Islamic issue’

Mirwaiz Maulvi Umar Farooq is a popular figure in Kashmir. He joined politics at a tender age of 17 in 1990 shortly after his father, Mirwaiz Maulana Farooq, was assassinated. Since then Maulvi Umar Farooq has matured enough to comprehend the intricacies of politics. He is a former chairman of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and holds a master’s degree in Islamic Studies. Nasir Husain Peerzadah of The Milli Gazette met the Mirwaiz at his residence in Nageen. Excerpts: 

You joined politics at a very critical juncture when your father was martyred. Was it a choice or compulsion? 
When my father was martyred in May 1990 I was advised by some relatives not to join politics. But looking to the past when our family is seen involved in preaching the message of Islam to Kashmiri Muslims, I had to take the responsibilities albeit reluctantly in the beginning. Later things were left to Allah and I willingly accepted to shoulder the responsibilities thrust upon me and willingly accepted the challenges.

How has the Kashmir issue emerged in your view?
Kashmir problem emerged at the moment when India and Pakistan came into being. Logically it had to be part of Pakistan. But the conspiracies of Indian leaders coupled with some Kashmiris stopped Kashmir to be a part of Pakistan. So the problem emerged and later the refusal of the right of self determination aggravated the problem further which was promised by Nehru-a promise which could never be fulfilled.

The Kashmir problem is lingering for a long time. We see other international conflicts heading towards some solutions. Why such a long stalemate for Kashmir?
India is not serious for the resolution of Kashmir issue. Post nuclear scenario demands that the issue be solved amicably in order to ensure peace in the Subcontinent. It would be in the interest of India if the issue is resolved.

How would you highlight the role of the APHC?
The APHC was formed in 1993 when all the religio-political parties came under a single banner to voice for the oppressed Kashmiris. Since then the Conference has been strongly advocating the cause of Kashmiris. It has internationalized the issue to a great extent. It has been granted the observer status by the OIC. I have been the former chairman of APHC. I travelled to many foreign countries pleading for the cause of Kashmiris. So APHC is a potent force.

Why are you not joining hands with the 200-million-strong Indian Muslims so as to be an honourable community in India?
Kashmir is not a Hindu-Muslim case. It is a political and human problem. We have been made to loose our identity. Indian Muslims were given the chance to determine their fate in 1947. Kashmiris have never felt that they are a part of India. So we cannot be kept as hostages.

What is your view about a long lasting solution of Kashmir?
We want the implementation of the UN resolutions which state that the people of Kashmir should be asked to opt for either India or Pakistan. We also support tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris. The princely state which existed before 1947, all the representatives from all regions of this state should be allowed to discuss in order to reach some amicable solution.

Jammuites and Ladakhis have not joined the movement. Which solution would be applicable to the Kashmir issue?
Well, you see it is not an Islamic issue. Let the people of Jammu and Ladakh be given the option: if they want to join India we cannot stop them. 

Do you favour the division of state and the solution on communal lines?
If that is the only way what can we do? Still then there is support in some regions of Jammu with predominant Muslim population for the movement.

How do you look to the report issued by the Kashmir Study Group based in the US?
A lot of ‘solutions’ have been suggested by people. One professor from California suggests some 35 solutions. The Kashmir Study Group suggests a state within state seeking guarantees from both India and Pakistan and urging both the governments to enter into certain international agreements. The report/suggestions would be thoroughly debated and discussed. Yet no official stance has been taken by us.

You were offered talks by India. Any comment?
On one hand, India is suppressing us and on the other hand we are offered to come to table and to talk within the confines of Indian constitution. This is not possible.

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