Normalization of Indo-Pak ties hurts Kashmir cause: Salahuddin

Updated 08 July 2012
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Normalization of Indo-Pak ties hurts Kashmir cause: Salahuddin

Recent developments with regard to Pakistan's normalization of relations with India have made Kashmir's struggle for the right of self-determination disenchanted as this new approach of the Pakistani political leadership has stunned top Kashmiri leaders.
Pakistan bestowed on India the title of its “Most Favored Nation” (MFN status) besides opening several trade routes along the line of control as well as on the settled boundaries, giving a clear signal to Kashmiri political and militant leaders that Pakistan needs business with India.
However, the obvious question that arises is: At what cost does Pakistan seek peace and under what strategy will it follow the peace process? Syed Salahuddin, head of Hizbul Mujahideen, a separatist organization, and head of Mutahidda Jihad Council (MJC), an umbrella organization of all militant groups, seeking freedom through armed struggle against India, says he is desperate and agitated with this new approach taken by Pakistan.
"Kashmir has been the key issue but now it has become peripheral as all claims of supporting our struggle politically, diplomatically and morally are nothing but lip service," Syed Salahuddin told Arab News.
Salahuddin, in his late 60s, hailing from Budgam district of the Indian side of Kashmir, is considered to be the architect of the modern armed struggle against the 'Indian occupation' in Kashmir. Kashmir has been a bone of contention between the two archrivals in the subcontinent. Existing as peaceful neighbors is important for both the nuclear-armed countries so as to avoid any unrest in the region.
Several successive governments in Pakistan, starting from Benazir Bhutto to Nawaz Sharif, then Gen. Musharraf and now Asif Ali Zardari, have all adopted the policy of normalizing relations besides continuing to discuss the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir with India at bilateral level talks.
More than a dozen such talks have brought no fruit. The process started in Musharraf's era supported by the Americans for deescalating tensions successfully brought down militancy in Kashmir, but for many this strategic shift damaged Pakistan a lot. "We are fighting Pakistan's war in Kashmir and if it withdraws its support, the war would be fought inside Pakistan," said Salahuddin.
He believes that militancy alone is the solution of the Kashmir crisis. "All those who were involved in the so-called peace talks eventually admitted that India is not serious and that it gained more and more time to implement its own design for the region," he said.
The existing dichotomy on the Kashmir issue has placed the Pakistanis in a dilemma on whether to support militancy or the peace process. Salahuddin believes that this is why the Pakistanis are silent and irreverent, while believing that the Pakistani masses must play a vital role in mounting pressure for the cause and for forcing the government to withdraw its new approach, which he says is hurting the Kashmir struggle.
Salahuddin said the movement cannot be wrapped up on the negotiation table. "Who negotiated for the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan? Were there any talks in Iraq and Afghanistan? The US is compelled by the situation to withdraw its forces in the absence of any negotiation and we would follow the same strategy in Kashmir," he said.
Like the rest of the religious schools of thought in Pakistan, the MJC head also believed that opening trade and business relations with India would benefit only India and instead would be counterproductive for Pakistan and its economy. "Pakistan is doing all this without keeping its own interest as prime due to foreign and Western pressures without analyzing its disastrous consequences," Salahuddin concluded.


Vote count begins for Afghan election

Afghan election observers at a polling center after ballots in the country’s legislative election were counted in Kabul on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Vote count begins for Afghan election

  • Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging
  • The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates

KABUL: Vote counting began on Monday for Afghanistan’s parliamentary election, which was marred by violence and irregularities, with political parties alleging “organized fraud.”

The parties said mismanagement and hundreds of Taliban attacks, which led to an extension of voting for another day at hundreds of polling stations, could raise questions over the election result, which is expected to be released in two months.

Some candidates said powerful figures were behind election rigging, and biometric devices, which were put in place to counter fraud, were smashed to facilitate the rigging. 

Abdul Bade Sayad, head of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), was cited by local media as confirming incidents of biometric equipment being smashed, and the presence of strongmen inside some polling stations. 

But the IEC should not be held responsible for this, he said, adding: “When the government itself feels helpless before powerful figures, then senior officials of the commission should not be blamed.”

The Electoral Complaints Commission said there was mismanagement during the election, and as of Sunday it had received some 5,000 complaints from voters and candidates.

Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said people could not vote on Saturday in some 1,000 polling stations. 

Ahead of the election, which was delayed for more than three years, the government said it could not open more than 2,000 stations due to security threats.

Alleged irregularities included polling stations opening late, biometric devices malfunctioning, and the absence of IEC staff and voter registration lists.

Of the 9 million people who had registered to vote, nearly 4 million cast their ballot, the IEC said.

The IHRC said the IEC should not shun its responsibility regarding “shortcomings and grave violations in voting centers.”

The Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan said: “In some of the polling stations, ballots were not counted; instead the ballot boxes were transferred to a different location for counting… without informing the observers about the new location.”