Kashmir still dominates Pak politics, PML-Q manifesto tells all

Greater Kashmir

Srinagar, Dec 12: Despite political instability in Pakistan, the Kashmir issue continues to remain dominant discourse in the country, with political parties highlighting it in their election manifestos.
 To begin with, the Pakistan Muslim League (Q) has called for resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions and described the Hurriyat Conference—there is no mention of Geelani or Mirwaiz faction—as true representative of Kashmiris.
 The PML-Q was formed in 2001 when the Pakistan Muslim League split into several factions. The party president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and his cousin Chaudhry Pervez Ellahi, who is also Chief Minister of Pakistan’s biggest province, Punjab, are the biggest supporters of the Musharraf regime. That is why their critics call the PML-Q as king’s party. Syed Mushahid Hussain is secretary general of PML-Q.
 The PML-Q released its election manifesto on Monday. It says: “The PML supports the right of self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir through implementing UN resolutions. However, in order to break the deadlock on this issue existing for the last 60 years, the PML would support all those initiatives to peacefully resolve the Kashmir question which enjoy the support and backing of the Kashmiri people. The PML recognizes the APHC as representing the voice of the oppressed Kashmiri people. The PML will support any settlement of Kashmir that is just and honourable, which is acceptable to the Kashmiri people.”
 It says that the peace process with India will be pursued with vigour since it is conducive to a stable and peaceful South Asia. For the PML-Q, Kashmir is a problem of humanity, and the welfare of Kashmiris comes first before the territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
 Back home, the Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani feels that the PML-Q has candidly admitted the Hurriyat as representative voice of Kashmiris. “And our Hurriyat is representative of people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said. He said only UN resolutions could pave a way for solution of the Kashmir dispute and that the Hurriyat would not accept any resolution within the purview of Indian constitution.
 Geelani said the PML-Q manifesto talks at length about the Indo-Pak peace process. “There is no peace in Kashmir and the peace process is a total sham,” Geelani said, adding that human rights violations are taking place in Kashmir at massive scale. He, however, said that Kashmir would continue to remain in the political discourse of Pakistan and no party could ignore it.
 The Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq described the PML-Q manifesto as a welcome move and said it was first time that the Kashmir issue has been given prominence by any political party in Pakistan. He said the manifesto has accepted the centrality of the Kashmir issue and has recognized the importance of people who have given sacrifices.
 “By saying that welfare of Kashmiris comes first, the PML-Q has brought back focus on Kashmir and Kashmiris again,” Mirwaiz said. He described the PML-Q manifesto as a realistic one and said by keeping it open the party has left scope for negotiated settlement as well. He hoped that other parties in Pakistan would also focus on the Kashmir issue.