Conference and other outfits which claim popular support amid indications
that a final solution is being shaped around the trifurcation of the Jammu
& Kashmir state, a demand raised by Sangh Parivar outfits, while
Farooq Abdullah prepares to turns the tables by calling new elections...Javed
Matjee in Srinagar speaks to two key players in the Valley.
‘Pak involvement must for Kashmir resolution’: Sadiq Ali
Mr. Sadiq Ali is a senior leader of the ruling National Conference
(NC). He has been a minister in the cabinet of late Sheikh Mohammad
Abdullah. A working committee member, Mr. Sadiq acts as publicity
in-charge of the party for the last two decades. He is considered a
balanced representative of the Shia community in the NC. Though
ministerial berths went to Sadiq’s hard rival Molvi Iftikhar Hussain
Ansari and another junior leader in the party Aga Syed Mahmood, however,
Sadiq is still consulted by the party leadership on all-important matters.
Sadiq has a reputation within the party for calling a spade a spade. It
was on his suggestion that the autonomy resolution was brought for
detailed discussions and subsequent voting in the state assembly in June
In an interview to the MG at his residence here Mr. Ali highlighted his
party’s point of view on the settlement of Kashmir issue, offer of
talks, Hurriyat’s refusal to talk, withdrawal of ceasefire and some
other issues. Mr. Sadiq views that there is no way to settle the Kashmir
issue without Pakistan’s involvement. He however said, ‘we should not
expect miracles from the proposed summit meeting between Gen.. Musharraf
and Mr. Vajpayee’, adding that negotiations can take off only if these
suit the west. Mr. Sadiq has no hopes of issue settling very soon. He
views that it took the U.S 10 years in bringing the leaders of Israel and
Palestine together. When asked about prospects of the proposed meeting
between Musharraf and Vajpayee, the NC leader said that it was not for the
first time that heads of these two neighboring countries were meeting.
According to Mr. Sadiq the Liyaqat-Nehru, Indira- Bhutto and Rajiv-
Benazir meetings have failed to yield any positive results towards the
settlement of the Kashmir issue. Asked about his party’s view on the
invitation extended by Indian prime minister to Pak military ruler, the NC
leader said that his party considers it as a positive step and hopes that
this would pave the way for peaceful settlement of the issue.
‘Dr. Farooq Abdullah has already hailed the decision and had termed it
as historic one’, said Mr. Sadiq adding that if Kashmir issue is
settled, India and Pakistan could become good friends and then ‘ India
need not spend Rs. 60,000 crore on defense nor would Pakistan be forced to
exhaust 40% of its GDP on this sector’. According to him this all is
because of Kashmir problem and once the problem is solved, it will open
the doors for development in the Subcontinent. Sadiq said that the
million-dollar question was whether two countries would agree to a
peaceful settlement of the Kashmir issue. He says that his party was of
the opinion that Pakistan’s involvement in the settlement of the Kashmir
issue was very essential, saying that we have to satisfy that country over
Kashmir. Replying to a question the NC leader said that both India and
Pakistan face external pressure over Kashmir but said that compulsions do
not work everywhere. ‘ Instead, New Delhi and Islamabad should realize
of their own that they must resolve the Kashmir issue’.
Mr. Sadiq however differs with his party chief Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s
views of converting the line of control into the international border.
‘After all this situation prevails for last more than 50 years but has
not satisfied Pakistan which is evident from the present turmoil in
Kashmir’, Mr. Sadiq said however refusing to reply what could be the
final solution to the problem. When asked if his party thinks that
accession was final and Kashmir an integral part of India, then what for
talking of peace, talks and settlement? the NC leader replied that we
should not escape realities. ‘This is a fact that the Kashmir issue
continues to be on the agenda of the United Nations’, he said. q
Shabir justifies talking
The democratic freedom party chief Shabir Ahmad Shah ultimately
entered into a dialogue with the Govt. of India. He had his first and
unexpected round of talks with the center’s interlocutor Mr. K. C. Pant
on 30 May. Mr. Shah defended his decision to talk to Mr. Pant, saying that
the Indian prime minister Atal Behari vajpayee has kept his word of
involving Pakistan into the dialogue process.
In an interview, immediately after his meeting with Mr. K. C. Pant, Mr.
Shah told the MG that the central government had assured, in reply to his
party’s letter to the center’s interlocutor, that New Delhi was
committed to hold talks with Islamabad. Mr. Vajpayee , according to Shah
has not only kept his word but has also taken a very bold initiative by
inviting Gen. Parvez Musharraf for talks to New Delhi. ‘After Mr.
Vajpayee’s invitation to Gen. Musharraf, we thought it fit to talk to
the center in any form so that some via media is established to settle the
Kashmir dispute’, Mr. Shah said. He expressed his optimism that the
dispute would be resolved if all concerned adopt compromising attitudes.
Replying to a question Mr. Shah said that his hour-long meeting with Mr.
Pant was nothing final. ‘In fact we again conveyed to Mr. Pant that no
resolution to the problem was possible without active participation of
Pakistan’, Mr. Shah said adding that the center’s negotiator was also
informed that peace and settlement talks and violations of human rights
can not go side by side. ‘The center has to put an end to the excesses
and atrocities committed over people of Kashmir’ the DFP chief observed,
saying that a cordial and congenial atmosphere required for making talks a
success was lacking in Kashmir. Replying another question Mr. Shah said
that this was in no way a condition but a need without which no talks
could succeed. ‘We have not given formal shape to our talks with Mr.
Pant as we want to see progress on this front’, Shah said. He revealed
that a detailed letter has been handed over to Mr. Pant to which, Shabir
said, Pant’s response was good. Asked about future plans to meet other
central leaders, Shabir Shah said that after beginning of talks it is now
responsibility of the central govt. to provide a genuine atmosphere for
onward talks. About Gen Pervez Musharraf’s proposed New Delhi visit, the
DFP chief opined that if both Gen. Musharraf and Mr. Vajpayee talk with
open minds and clear hearts, this could make a very good beginning in the
history of the subcontinent and will lead to the final settlement of
Kashmir issue. When asked if he will make any attempt to meet Gen.
Musharraf in New Delhi, Shabir Shah said when we meet Indian leaders why
not to Pakistanis. He however said that Gen. himself should be willing to
meet him (Shah). He denied that Pakistan high commissioner to New Delhi
had refused to meet two DFP leaders who had gone to Delhi to handover a
letter from Shabir Shah written to Gen. Musharraf. Mr. Shah claimed that
the letter was delivered at its destination.
About Hurriyet conference’s refusal to talk to Mr. Pant and subsequent
criticism of Shabir’s decision, Mr. Shah said that all of us must
contribute towards resolution of the Kashmir problem. ‘If we contribute
an iota towards the settlement, we will be remembered by the coming
generations’ Mr. Shah viewed. He criticized the central government for
withdrawing the cease-fire saying it has no match with invitation of talks
extended to Gen. Musharraf. q