SRINAGAR: Pro-freedom leaders on Wednesday criticised the British foreign secretary, Phillip Hammond, for his remarks that Kashmir should not be a pre-condition for dialogue between India and Pakistan.
Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani termed the statement as “irrational” and “unreasonable”.
Geelani, in a statement issued here, said Kashmir dispute was the “basic and real” issue between the India and Pakistan.
“Ignoring the issue has neither helped in the past and nor can we expect anything concrete in future,” he said.
“The British government had played a key role in the creation of Kashmir dispute and the fresh statement of its foreign secretary also reflects that they want to keep this issue burning so that India and Pakistan will always remain entangled with each other.”
Terming the statement as “most sorrowful”, Hurriyat chairman said the statement of Hammond suggested that his country “is still suffering from the imperialistic illness”.
“They don’t want lasting and permanent solution of the disputes between the developing countries, which can bring them to the new era of development and prosperity,” he said.
Geelani said India and Pakistan should understand that the world powers don’t want other countries to become powerful and prosperous nations.
He appealed the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to show “political maturity and foresight” and pledge for the permanent and lasting resolution of the long-pending Kashmir dispute.
“It will write a new chapter in the history of the South Asian region, and it will be credited to both the prime ministers.
“Geelani sahab said that the Kashmir dispute is the main hurdle in the way of peace, development, and prosperity of the people living in both India and Pakistan. Sidelining it will not fetch any good. The cold war like situations will continue between India and Pakistan and they will remain permanent customers of the weapons manufactured in the factories of the Britain and America.”
In his response to Philip Hammond’s statement, chairman of Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Shabir Ahmad Shah, said the British foreign secretary’s statement was “unrealistic”.
“The Britain is responsible for the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
In a statement issued here, Shah, who is under detention, said Hammond’s remarks either reveal his lack of knowledge on the issue or he has “deliberately” made such comments “to sideline a well-established fact”.
“What stops this country to contribute to the resolution of Kashmir issue when played a role in East Timur and South Sudan? How come Mr Hammond prioritises the ‘onion-potato trade’ over the future of 15 million people of Jammu and Kashmir? Reality is that the west has adopted a biased approach vis-à-vis Kashmir issue, which is backed by 18 resolutions in the United Nations and is signed by both India and Pakistan,” Shah said.
Asking Hammond to revisit the history of J&K, Shah said he must not shy away from acknowledging the responsibility over the longstanding dispute of the subcontinent. Shah said they want Kashmir issue to be prioritised in the Indo-Pak dialogue process.
“It is an established fact that the relation between India and Pakistan will never improve until the Kashmir issue is resolved,” he said.
The J&K High Court Bar Association, Srinagar, also criticised Hammond for his remarks.
In a meeting held here, the members of the association, as per a statement issued here, said Kashmiri Muslims were being “subjected to torture, arrest, detention, custodial disappearance, unprovoked firing, and brutal killing, while the international community is watching as a silent spectator”.
Instead of condemning the atrocities committed on the people of Kashmir, certain quarters, at this crucial juncture, were “giving sermons, like the one given by British foreign secretary….”
“Such statements will not only encourage the Indian forces to continue with their reign of terror, but will also prolong the agony and misery of the people of Kashmir,” they said.
The members stated that Kashmir dispute was the root cause of all problems faced by the people of the sub-continent.
“If the issue is put on a backburner and efforts are not made to settle it according to the wishes and aspirations of the people, how can one expect peace and tranquility in the region?”
“The British Foreign Secretary should have impressed upon the government of India and its leaders to settle the Kashmir issue as early as possible according to the wishes of the people, so that the people of Kashmir will usher an era of peace.
“Instead of doing so…he has rub salt on the wounds of the people of Kashmir and has vertically sided with the occupational forces engaged in systematic genocide of the people of Kashmir.”