Kashmir militant scorns Pakistan-India peace talks

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:08pm IST

Syed Salahuddin, chief of Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, addresses a gathering at a mosque in Pakistan's central city of Multan in this August 11, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Asim Tanveer

Syed Salahuddin, chief of Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, addresses a gathering at a mosque in Pakistan's central city of Multan in this August 11, 2006 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Asim Tanveer

Related Topics

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) - The Pakistan-based commander of the biggest Kashmiri guerrilla group derided on Monday a peace process between Pakistan and India and vowed to continue a "holy war" against India.

Relations between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India, which have fought three wars since independence 60 years ago, have improved considerably since they launched a peace process in early 2004.

But Syed Salahuddin, the supreme commander of the Hizbul Mujahideen group, said the Kashmir dispute, which lies at the heart of rivalry between the neighbours, had never been treated as a "core issue" in peace talks.

"We are peace-loving people but we cannot promote a peace process at the cost of our martyrs," Salahuddin, who is also head of a militant alliance, told a rally in Muzaffarabad, capital of the Pakistani part of divided Kashmir.

The rally by the militants, attended by about 1,000 people, was the first in many years and was held just few weeks after a new government took power in Pakistan.

Salahuddin's comments came a month before Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee was due in Islamabad for a review of the peace process.

More than 42,000 people have been killed since a revolt against Indian rule erupted in Indian Kashmir in 1989, according to Indian figures. Human rights groups put the toll at 60,000.

However, the level of violence has fallen since the peace process was launched, although no significant progress has been made on the Kashmir dispute. Both Pakistan and India claim Muslim-majority region in full but rule parts of it.

Salahuddin said militants would continue jihad, or Muslim holy war, until Kashmir was "free" of Indian rule.

"We want to convey a message to the ... political and religious leadership in Pakistan and at the same time to the Indian rulers that until every single inch of Kashmir is freed from New Delhi's slavery, our struggle will continue with full force," he said.

Pakistan supported the guerrillas fighting Indian rule in Kashmir during the 1990s, but after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, President Pervez Musharraf took steps to rein in the militants.

Pakistan's new government has said it aims to continue the peace process with India.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi referred on Monday to the talks with India as "a step in the right direction".

Speaking at a news conference with his British counterpart, David Miliband, Qureshi said Pakistan's "immediate threat" was not external and that stability on the border with India let the government focus more on internal security issues.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

WTO DEAL

TOP SHOWCASE

Truce In Gaza

Truce In Gaza

Israel, Palestinian militant groups agree to 3-day Gaza truce.  Full Article 

Gold Smuggling

Gold Smuggling

In cat-and-mouse game, India uncovers new gold smuggling route.  Full Article 

Banking On 'Zest'

Banking On 'Zest'

Tata Motors bets on new sedan to revive weak India sales.  Full Article 

India-US Ties

India-US Ties

India, U.S. stress strategic ties but tensions remain.  Full Article 

Tracking Monsoon

Tracking Monsoon

Monsoon turns patchy after revival.  Full Article 

England Beat India

England Beat India

Moeen puts India in a spin as England level series  Full Article 

Pune Landslide

Pune Landslide

Rescuers slog through waist-deep mud to dig out submerged village houses after landslide.  Full Article 

For Tough People

For Tough People

Mountain bikers eye $1 million in 'toughest race on earth'.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage