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|June 5, 2001||
The Rediff Interview/Former Union home minister Mufti
'If North and South Korea could, why can't we talk on Kashmir?'
Former home minister of India and president of the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Front Mufti
Mohammad Sayeed has welcomed the talks between Atal Bihari Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf.
In an exclusive interview with
In an exclusive interview withOnkar Singh, the Mufti said that although the withdrawal of the cease-fire was a great setback to the peace process, the fact that the leaders of India and Pakistan were going to talk was extremely significant. Excerpts:
Do you think anything will come out of these talks?
It [the talks] is a good indication. I have always supported the initiatives taken by Prime Minister Vajpayee on this front. When he decided to go to Lahore by bus I thought this was a great move. When he announced a unilateral cease-fire in November it was a bold decision. Likewise it is a bold step to hold talks with Pakistan on Kashmir.
Given the fact that both countries have rigid stands on Kashmir, do you hope any progress will be made?
The stand taken in public is one thing and the stand adopted during one-to-one talks is another. If North Korea and South Korea can talk why can't we talk on Kashmir? I hope something positive will emerge. Especially when both countries are under pressure to talk due to their own compulsions.
The fact that India has given up its conditions -- that it would not talk to Pakistan till it stops trans-border terrorism -- shows that India must talk. Likewise there is pressure on Musharraf as his own position within Pakistan is not very secure.
You said the withdrawal of the cease-fire was a great setback. Why?
When the cease-fire was announced by the prime minister in November last year there was a lot of enthusiasm amongst the people in the valley. It was very effective during the first one month. But later it fizzled out.
Because the state administration led by Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was not interested in playing ball.
What interest did he have in not supporting the cease-fire?
He has everything to gain if militancy continues in the state. His shop is running only on that count. He has been against the cease-fire from Day 1 and he would not allow it to succeed. He wants to hold an election in the prevailing situation so that he can win easily.
In other states there is an anti-incumbency factor. In this case there is no such thing because there is no alternative to him in the state.
But he in turn blames you for releasing top militants in exchange for your daughter.
He is free to say what he wants. We, the politicians of Jammu & Kashmir and the Centre, are to blame for the present situation in the state.
You advocate the continuation of the cease-fire. But the state administration says it would not have been in a position to combat terrorism in the state if the cease-fire had continued.
After the first month, there was no cease-fire on the ground. Militants were killed in encounters. There were custodial deaths. There were human rights violations. The state director general of police went on record saying that the state police would continue its campaign against militants despite the cease-fire.
When the two heads of government are going to talk about J&K, do you think K C Pant has any role in the state?
K C Pant was appointed a bit too late and he has achieved too little during this period. But of course he has a role to play. A message has gone to the people of Jammu & Kashmir that the Government of India wants to hold talks with them and their representatives.
We should not expect the [All Parties] Hurriyat Conference to hold talks with Pant in a hurry. But sooner or later they will. If Shabir Shah could hold talks with Pant, if G M Shah could talk to Pant, if Azam Inquilabi could talk, then why not the Hurriyat? Pant should continue his efforts.
Do you have any solution to offer J&K?
How I wish I had. Mere paas koi Alladin ka chirag nahin hai jo Jammu aur Kashmir ke logon ki samasya hal kar sake. [I have no magic lamp with which to solve the problems of J&K]. Kashmir is a complex problem and it will not be sorted out in one or two meetings.
Swaran Singh [former Union external affairs minister] had six rounds of talks with his Chinese counterpart in 1962 before anything concrete emerged. North Korea and South Korea, though poles apart, managed to narrow down their differences and eventually the families living in the two Koreas were allowed to reunite.
I hope something like this comes out of the talks between Vajpayee and Musharraf. The fact that they are going to talk itself is very important and should be taken note of.
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