Top Kashmir Separatist Urges India to Show Restraint, Resume Talks

May 20, 2002 - 0:0
SRINAGAR, India -- An influential separatist leader in Indian-administered Kashmir Sunday urged India to give up its "confrontationist" attitude and resume dialogue with Pakistan.

The appeal by Omar Farooq came a day after India said it was expelling Pakistan's High Commissioner in response to Tuesday's massacre in Kashmir, in which 35 people, mainly wives and children of armym

India accuses Pakistan of backing the separatist militants who carried out the attack, on an army camp near Kashmir's winter capital Jammu. Pakistan denies the allegation.

"The expulsion notice has only added fuel to the fire," said Farooq, who is also the head priest of Kashmir and an executive member of Kashmir's main separatist alliance -- the all party Hurriyat Conf

"This step (by India) will further strain the fast deteriorating relations between the two nuclear rivals," said Farooq, adding the move has choked the possibility of an immediate dialogue between the

Farooq appealed to the international community to step in and defuse the crisis, "As a single spark on borders can lead to disaster." India and Pakistan moved nearly a million troops closer to their s

New Delhi blamed two Pakistan-based Islamic extremist groups for the attack and said it would withdraw troops from the borders only if Pakistan stopped "cross-border terrorism." Pakistan banned both t

Tuesday's suicide attack by militants in Jammu has further raised tensions, with India weighing options to launch a counter-attack.

Islamabad has threatened to respond equally.

Farooq on Sunday appealed to the two countries to lower the temperature and start meaningful negotiations to resolve all points of dispute, including the perplexed issue of Kashmir, which is held in p

"Instead of building a war hysteria, India should hold talks with Pakistan over all the impending issues," he said.

"War is not going to change anything," the separatist leader said, adding the previous wars between India and Pakistan in 1947, 1965 and 1972 did not yield any results.

Farooq said India, Pakistan and representatives of Hurriyat could sit together and resolve the issue of Kashmir through talks.

"I believe if the Kashmir dispute is resolved, India and Pakistan will live in peace forever," said Farooq, whose father, also a separatist leader, was shot dead on May 21, 1990 by unidentified gunmen

Indian security forces and militants blamed each other for the killings.