Q. A lot of debate is going on about demilitarisation in the state, New Delhi and Islamabad do you support this idea?
A. We fully support the demand for demilitarisation. It is our fundamental stand, we cannot oppose it but another sentence should be suffixed to this demand and that is the holding of a referendum after demilitarisation in the state in accordance with the UN resolution to know if people of Jammu and Kashmir want to join India or Pakistan. We want both India and Pakistan troops to withdraw from Indian Held Kashmir and Azad Kashmir and then hand over the region to the United Nations for holding a referendum in the state and implementing its eighteen resolutions about Kashmir so that the 13 million people living in Azad Kashmir, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are allowed their fundamental right the right to self-determination.
Q. What do you make of the out-of-the-box proposals that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has advanced as a way out of the conflict?
A. Our stand is unambiguous and the proposals that are being piloted are full of ambiguity and there are no explanations attached to these proposals and they do not fulfil the requirements of the Kashmir problem and there is a lot of confusion in them. There is confusion in the people who pilot these proposals and in those who listen to them. We have no confusion. In unambiguous terms we say that Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory and we have been demanding that India should fulfil its commitments made before the comity of nations, the problem will be resolved. Now after 59 years stating that these proposals are a step towards resolution does not stand the tests — since 2004 India and Pakistan have been talking but there is no progress on Kashmir. India is not budging an inch from its irrational and immoral stand and in this situation how can one agree with these proposals which have so far failed to create even a ripple. Unless India agrees that Kashmir is a disputed territory — all proposals are meaningless and fruitless.
Q. But if India were to agree to the demilitarisation option, even in a phased manner, will not that be a step forward?
A. My answer to that is a counter-question: is India ever going to agree to demilitarisation? It is instead consolidating its position — thousand of acres of land are being requisitioned for building more army bases. The [Indian] newspapers are full of stories on this issue. Unless India changes its unrealistic policy on Kashmir nothing is going to happen. General Musharraf first proposed that Pakistan was ready to find some solution by bypassing the UN resolution but India showed no response. Then he suggested dividing the state in seven zones for facilitating India for finding out a solution but India rejected it. Then he suggested making the LoC porous but India did not respond. Then he suggested self-governance and India responded by saying that there was already self-governance in Jammu and Kashmir state. It asserted that people in the state have been electing their own government for past fifty seven years. Now they are talking about demilitarisation and Indian prime minister quite categorically turned it down recently.
Q. India has been saying that it is ready to initiate demilitarisation in Jammu and Kashmir but that Pakistan was not ready.
A. This is not true. Pakistan has never ruled out withdrawing its troops from Azad Kashmir for enabling the UN to hold a referendum in the state. It has always shown keenness saying that it was ready for implementing the UN resolution in Kashmir. In fact, historically this has been Pakistan’s stand.
Q. As far as India’s stand on Kashmir is concerned it seems that it is in no mood to allow people of Jammu and Kashmir their right to self-determination or hold a plebiscite in the state as you demand. Do you have an alternative solution in mind?
A. Before me the only solution for the problem is right to self-determination for the people of the state. And at this juncture when the Pakistan government is presenting every now and then new proposals my sincere suggestion to the people of the state, the people of Pakistan and the Pakistan government is that there should be one stand only — that their stand on the issue be the same. Giving new proposals also indicates that Pakistan is budging from its fundamental and historical stand and this only serves to strengthen India’s position in Kashmir. And at this juncture when the international community is interested in the resolution of Kashmir problem both the Kashmir leadership and the Pakistan government should adhere to their stand on Kashmir and not exhibit any kind of weakness.
Q. The other faction of the Hurriyat led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is talking to both India and Pakistan but about you there is an impression that you are a hardliner and you are not ready to come on the negotiating table. If you are invited for talks by both the countries will you agree? There were reports that you have rejected an invitation to meet with the Pakistani prime minister which was made to you during your recent meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.
A. No I have not rejected invitation to Pakistan. I told Mr Kasuri that I have no travel documents. The government of India has impounded my passport many years back and I am not allowed to travel abroad. We have never been against dialogue but so far all dialogues have been fruitless. When I was chairman of the All India Hurriyat Conference, then united, the Hurriyat executive was permitted to hold talks with India. I talked to Wajahat Habibullah, R K Misri and Admiral Nayar — all interlocutors representing New Delhi — more than once and when placed before them my point of view and asked them to place these points before the government of India. But after I did that they never turned up with any feedback or follow-up. After the division of the Hurriyat the faction led by Mirwaiz has been talking to government of India and so far there have been no results. Like I said earlier, unless the government of India shows some flexibility there can be no forward movement.
Q. History shows that not much can be achieved unless those struggling for a cause are willing to come to the negotiating table. What do you say to that?
A. You have fifty-nine years history before you — so far India has not shown any flexibility in its stand. Indian and Pakistani leaders have been meeting, conferences and conventions are being held all the time now, the Kashmiri leadership has been meeting the Indian leadership but so far India has been only pursuing a one point programme — and that is to make the Pakistani and Kashmiri leadership agree to the conversion of the LoC into a permanent border. That in fact has been also the strategy of India’s supporters at the international level. I can safely say that India has no other plan on this.
Q. India and Pakistan fought three wars but nothing substantial has happened on the Kashmir front. So what can be achieved by fighting?
A. It is true India and Pakistan fought three wars over the region. However, since 1947 India has not shown any inclination to allow Kashmiris the right to self-determination. In such a situation we have two options before us: one, to say good bye to our struggle and surrender before mighty India or two, remain steadfast and fight for our cause. I choose the second and I believe victory will be ours as Allah is on our side.