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.


Britain and EU spar over Brexit as clock ticks down

Updated 21 September 2019

Britain and EU spar over Brexit as clock ticks down

  • Britain says a deal is possible
  • Ireland says not close to a deal

LONDON/BRUSSELS : Britain said on Friday a Brexit deal with the European Union could be reached at a summit next month, but EU member Ireland said the sides were far from agreement and London had not yet made serious proposals.
Three years after Britons voted to leave the EU, hopes of a breakthrough over the terms of its departure have been stoked in recent days by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the shape of a deal is emerging and European Commission President Juncker saying agreement is possible.
But diplomats say the two sides are split over London’s desire to remove the Irish border “backstop” from the divorce deal struck by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, and then work out a replacement in coming years.
The backstop is an insurance policy to keep the 500-km (300-mile) border between Ireland, which will remain in the EU, and the British province of Northern Ireland open after Brexit.
“We both want to see a deal,” British Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said after talks in Brussels with EU negotiator Michel Barnier. “The meeting overran, which signals we were getting into the detail.”
“There is a still a lot of work to do but there is a common purpose to secure a deal,” Barclay said, adding that Juncker and Johnson also both wanted a deal.
Leaving the EU would be Britain’s biggest shift in trade and foreign policy for more than 40 years and deprive the 28-nation bloc of one of its biggest economies. The EU has set a deadline for a deal to be reached by Oct. 31.
British parliament has rejected the deal May agreed with the EU. Johnson has said he wants to secure an amended deal at an EU summit on Oct. 17-18 but that Britain will leave the bloc if that is not possible. He will meet European Council Donald Tusk at the United Nations in New York next week.
Ireland is crucial to any Brexit solution. Unless the Irish border backstop is removed or amended, Johnson will not be able to win parliamentary approval but Ireland and the EU are unwilling to sign a deal without a solution to the border.
The EU fears a hard border could cause unrest in Northern Ireland and undermine the fragile peace provided by a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence between Irish nationalists seeking a united Ireland, and the British security forces and pro-British “unionists.”
The Withdrawal Agreement that was agreed with the EU last November says the United Kingdom will remain in a customs union “unless and until” alternative arrangements are found to avoid the return of border controls in Ireland.
The British government, worried the backstop will trap it in the EU’s orbit for years to come, wants to remove it and find a solution before December 2020, when a planned transition period ends.
The British pound fell from a two-month high after the Financial Times reported Johnson had told colleagues he did not expect to reach a full “legally operable” deal next month.
One EU official said Britain’s proposals are not enough to replace the backstop.
“As it stands, it is unacceptable,” the official said. “If they don’t really change their approach, we are at an impasse.”
The European Commission said in a memo that Britain’s plans “fall short of satisfying all the objectives” of finding an alternative to the backstop, Sky News reported.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the mood music had improved and that both sides wanted a deal but that they were not close to an agreement.
“There is certainly a lot of commentary now and some of it is spin I think, in the context of where we are,” he told the BBC. “We need to be honest with people and say that we’re not close to that deal right now.”
“Everybody needs a dose of reality here, there is still quite a wide gap between what the British government have been talking about in terms of the solutions that they are proposing, and I think what Ireland and the EU will be able to support.”
Britain said on Thursday it had shared documents with Brussels setting out ideas for a Brexit deal, but an EU diplomat described them as a “smokescreen” that would not prevent a disorderly exit on the Oct. 31 departure date.
Coveney, Ireland’s second most powerful politician, said a no-deal could lead to civil unrest.
“Trade across 300 road crossings that has created a normality and a peace that is settled on the island of Ireland for the last 20 years, that now faces significant disruption,” he said. “That is what we’re fighting for here.