Was offered PM position in 1996: Shabir Shah

Was offered PM position in 1996: Shabir Shah

If Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders are irrelevant, why Vajpayee sent his point man to Kashmir; why did the then government exchange letters with me? Why did Hurriyat leaders meet former Prime Minister Ma

Senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah Tuesday said Hurriyat leaders “truly represent” the sentiment of people of all J&K regions and “there can be no dialogue between the Hurriyat and New Delhi within the ambit of Indian constitution.” He also praised Pakistan for “not succumbing to pressure mounted by India before the cancellation of National Security Advisor-level talks” recently.

Addressing a press conference here after his return from Delhi, Shah said that Prime Minister NarendraModi is a “staunch RSS man and follows the same ideology.”

“They are forgetting policies and vision of their ideologues like former Prime Minister AtalBihari Vajpayee and L K Advani. It was Vajpayee who sent letters to us through his point-man K C Panth that he wishes to hold a dialogue with us,” Shah said. “I have copies of those letters. After I received the first letter from Panth, we wrote back and sought clarification on issues on which they want to talk to us. The second letter we received clearly stated that they wanted to talk on Kashmir issue.”

He said the present dispensation at New Delhi is “killing the very idea of dialogue, the basis of which was laid by Vajpayee and Advani.”

“If Kashmiri pro-freedom leaders are irrelevant, why Vajpayee sent his point man to Kashmir; why did the then government exchange letters with me? Why did Hurriyat leaders meet former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh if Kashmir is not an issue,” Shah asked.

He said in 2010, when an All Party Delegation (APD) was sent to Kashmir during the summer unrest, it met all Hurriyat leaders. “I was in prison that time. The APD members, including SushmaSwraj, met me there and sought our cooperation in bringing the situation to normal,” he said. 

He said New Delhi should “read writing on the wall that Kashmir’s pro-freedom leadership won’t talk within the ambit of Indian constitution.”

“They are claiming that Kashmir is their integral part; let us talk on table and clarify our stand as well. If they are so certain and sure about Kashmir being integral part of India, let there be a plebiscite under the observation of UN,” said Shah, who was first to reach New Delhi among separatist camp to meet Pakistan’s NSA Sartaj Aziz. He, however, was detained at the Delhi airport and put under detention for two days. The NSA talks were, in the meantime, called off.

He said detaining separatist leaders at New Delhi airport “reflects the stubbornness of Delhi and its intentions not to resolve the vexed issue of Kashmir, which is the main threat to peace in entire South Asia.”

“This is not for the first time we went to Delhi to meet Pakistan leaders. During Vajpayee’s time and even in former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s tenure, we have been meeting Pakistan High Commissioner and other leaders from Islamabad,” he said. “The present stance of Delhi to prevent Hurriyat leaders from meeting the NSA Aziz is an example of jingoistic mindset of RSS. The fact remains that Kashmir is a globally-accepted issue and 18 resolutions are pending still with the United Nations.”

He said Kashmir is beyond Shimla, Tashkant, or Lahore declarations. “Kashmir is the core issue.”

He said the world has accepted Kashmir as an issue and Hurriyat as genuine representatives of people of Kashmir.

Asked about former RAW Chief A S Dulat’s assertions in his book—Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years—that Shah was tipped to become Chief Minister of J&K in 1996, he said: “Even though we have talented people in Kashmir who can counter Dulat’s book with a book, the fact remains I was not only offered Chief Minister’s post but also Prime Minister’s post in 1996 because the then government at New Delhi was ready for pre-1953 position.”

He said in a situation where Delhi is in a denial mode, unity among separatist leaders across Kashmir is need of the hour.

“Some people keep questioning me what happened to my thread and needle that I used to stitch unity among separatists. Let me say there are people present who are against Hurriyat’s unity,” Shah said. 

On armed insurgency in Kashmir, especially the new breed of militancy, he said “like Baghat Singh, people in Kashmir are fighting on many fronts.”

“They (militants) are fighting on their front, but dialogue is inevitable to find solution to the issue of Kashmir,” he said.

Shah said Pakistan deserves all praise for its stance on Kashmir, especially the recent on NSA-level talks. “We hope better sense prevails and India accepts Kashmir as an issue and starts meaningful dialogue with Kashmiris on board,” he said.

On summon issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate, he said: “An official came to me in Delhi with a summon and stated that some 12 year old case has been re-opened against me.  I will send my lawyer on October 21 and if needed, I will put my point of view myself.”