Srinagar: Reacting to the Kashmir Reader news titled “Pak-based pro-freedom representatives’ support Gilgit Baltistan merger,” chief spokesman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), based in Pakistan, Rafiq Dar, has rebutted the story claiming it was baseless.
Dar said that the news item was totally baseless and termed as “mischief on behalf of the reporter or the source of the news”.
Dar said that the Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK), Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider had convened a meeting of the pro-freedom representatives on the evening of 24th March at Kashmir House, Islamabad.
He said that Haider in his inaugural speech actually wanted to listen to the views of pro-freedom groups on the merger of Gilgit Baltistan issue and asked for guidance too to adopt a common approach.
He claimed that All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and JKLF representatives, while reiterating the stand taken by their central leadership (Syed Ali Shah Geelani, M. Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq) from Srinagar expressed themselves in accordance with the guiding principles of our respective stand on the Kashmir issue.
However, Dar admitted vaguely that there were “one or two individuals” who supported the merger of Gilgit Baltistan with Pakistan. He stated both the two conveners of APHC Ghulam Muhammad Safi and Syed Faiz Naqshbandi, and JKLF expressed the “actual position or stand of their respective forums on the topic”.
In his speech, Dar categorically rejected merger of Gilgit Baltistan to Pakistan and expressed its far reaching implications on the Kashmir issue.
Dar said JKLF was not against conferring the due rights to people of Gilgit Baltistan of which they have been deprived so for, adding, it was suggested that PaK pattern should be set-up for Gilgit Baltistan.
He said that without altering the status, even the current system may also be made more powerful by providing due rights to the people of the area.
Dar also suggested to let Gilgit Baltistan government as a third party to CPEC represent the entire state of Jammu Kashmir to avoid any possible hurdle in it.
He said JKLF unequivocally expressed its view point that the merger of the area with Pakistan before its final disposition can be very detrimental to the Kashmir issue.
Reacting to the report, Hurriyat (G) representative in Pakistan, Ghulam Muhammad Safi, said that historically, legally, geographically and constitutionally Gilgit Baltistan was part of Kashmir. He said that before conducting right to self determination in the region, it was “not necessary to merge the Gilgit Baltistan with the Pakistan”.
“CPEC will change the fortunes of the Gilgit Baltistan,” Safi said in a statement. “We are not against the progress and development of the region. UNSC resolutions do not bar the stakeholders from developing the region. It is because of that1962 boundary agreement between China and Pakistan took place and Mirpur Dam was constructed”.
The Kashmir Reader reporter, Wasim Khalid, maintained that he stands by his story.
“I stand by my story that JKLF mildly reacted, not opposed vehemently, the merger of Gilgit-Baltistan region with Pakistan. Mr Safi put forward the point touching various facets if the political position of Gilgit Baltistan is altered. He however, did not oppose the move,” Khalid said. “Rest bulk of the members of pro-freedom groups including the constituents and representatives of APHC supported the merger of Gilgit Baltistan with Pakistan”.