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Interview: Abdul Ghani Bhat
‘Indian Muslims should not be bracketed with Kashmir’
Professor Abdul Ghani Bhat, the chief spokesman of All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), was elected new chairman of the APHC on 20 July. Nasir Hussain Peerzadah of The Milli Gazette met Prof. Bhat in Srinagar for an interview. Excerpts:
What is your political background?
I was a professor of Persian for 22 years. I started my political career in 1986 by forming the Muslim United Front (MUF) which actively took part in the elections held in 1987. The basic aim of MUF was to stop the Indian cultural aggression and seek a permanent solution to the J&K dispute. I am a dreamer in politics and a visionary.
Rigging of Election in 1987 by the joint conspiracy of Dr Farooq Abdullah and Rajiv Gandhi aggrieved the Kashmiri youth and they were forced to take up arms. I made up my mind to revive the ‘Muslim Conference’ formed in 1931. In 1938 it broke into two factions, ‘National Conference’ and ‘Muslim Conference.’ As such I started my political career in 1986 and started reviving ‘Muslim Conference’ in 1988. Presently I am heading this political outfit which is one of the contituents of the APHC.
How do you describe the genesis of the J&K dispute?
As per the Indian Independence Act, Kashmir should have gone to Pakistan. The then Maharaja could not take any decision either on 14 or 15 August 1947. Following the revolts in Poonch and other parts of J&K, the Maharaja in a helpless state sought Indian help and signed the instrument of Accession wherein the verdict of the people of J&K was not taken into consideration. This is how the trouble started.
How have India and Pakistan looked to the dispute of J&K?
India in initial stages agreed in the UN, in its Parliament and on the soil of J&K, that vote of people is a must to determine their fate. Pandit Nehru said: ‘If the people of J&K join Pakistan, we may feel upset but we cannot check it’ and it was the commitment of the Govt. of India that India will adhere to it under all circumstances. The Delhi agreement between Pandit Nehru and Liaqat Ali Khan also reaffirmed that people’s wishes would be determined to decide their fate. India initially promised to conduct a plebiscite as assured to the UN in order to allow the people to determine their fate. But then, as days passed by, India flagrantly violated the UN resolutions.
What is the solution of the Kashmir tangle according to the APHC?
APHC believes in the implementation of the UN resolution, if that is not possible then India, Pakistan and Kashmir should sit on a negotiation table to find some solution. People should be allowed to choose between India and Pakistan. The third option regarding ‘Independent Kashmir’ cannot be ruled out. This is the stand of APHC.
Are you representing the peoples of Jammu & Ladakh as well?
I do not draw lines between the different regions of the state. We represent the sentiments of J&K. There are pockets in Jammu and Ladakh where freedom struggle is going on.
If people of Jammu & Ladakh prefer to join India, how would you react?
Majority vote should decide the ultimate fate. In Canada it was the majority vote which decided the fate of Quebeck. Any way, we are democrats; we shall endorse the wishes of the people of Jammu & Ladakh.
What about a solution on communal basis?
This is an intrigue. Personally I would dislike any such move. Let the issue not be communalized.
So many solutions are being put forward to settle the issue. What is your opinion?
You see, the people of the state have to determine their fate. No solution would be accepted which comes from Washington, Delhi or Islamabad. We are the final arbitrators of our fate.
Have you received any support from the international community?
Yes, they have thrown all the weight behind our movement. Every country supports the initiation of dialogue. There is mounting pressure on both India and Pakistan to settle the issue. Post-nuclear scenario and open market economy demand the early solution of the issue.
How do you see a long lasting solution?
People will decide it. Personally I want to join Pakistan.
Can’t you be an honourable community in India?
Indian Muslims should not be bracketed with the Kashmir issue. We belong to a disputed territory. What we have to do with Indian Muslims?
Does faith not build a strong cohesion between us and the Indian Muslims? We share common aspiration and goals?
Faith is not involved. We are engaged in a political battle for a noble cause.