Q- Has the Hurriyat split? If yes, which faction is legitimate and which is renegade?
A- In the absence of a registering authority for parties, like the election commission of Pakistan or India, any person can claim to have split a party. The Hurriyat has not split. Only the people of Kashmir can judge who is a traitor and what constitutes betrayal. Neither the media, not the political establishments of India and Pakistan have any say in it. It is exclusively a domain of the Kashmir people.
Q-Who masterminded the split?
A- This perception of split suits covert agencies on both sides of the border. The so-called split could be a joint venture of these covert agencies or else a solo venture by one agency with the other facilitating the process. The truth is, this whole thing could not have been done without the implicit or tacit cooperation of both the agencies.
Q- Is there any individual that could claim to be the true leader of Kashmiris?
A- No there is no single leader, but that is nothing special. Diffusion of leadership is not just a Kashmiri but South Asian phenomenon. The era of solo performers such as the Bhutto, Gandhi or the Sheikh families is over. In Kashmir there is an added dimension. India and Pakistan use their resources to thrust leaders on the people.
Q- You had accused the ISI of masterminding the murder of your father. Are you still sure?
A- At the spur of the moment I did accuse them. Till date, I do not have any proof to substantiate it. Having said that, I would not be surprised if they were involved. I do not feel that the ISI, or for that matter RAW, is sacred. I have nothing but contempt for all the covert agencies, especially in South Asia. More than anybody else they have harmed the citizens of their own countries whom they purport to defend.
Q- What do you have against elections in Kashmir?
A- I am not against the concept, but against the Indian viewpoint that elections are a substitute for plebiscite. People elected to administer the state should not be marketed as political leaders to decide the future of Kashmir.
Q- What is the role of Lashkar and Jaish in the struggle of Kashmiris?
A- Lashkar and Jaish are the products of those countries that have glamourised violence by ignoring politics. The onus of diluting, marginalising or eliminating the role of violent elements is on India. If they accept there is a problem and engage political elements, the violent elements will simply be crowded out.
Q- Who is presently targeting civilian Kashmiris?
A- All the violent elements in Kashmir are targeting civilians. This is the truth and the truth.
Q- Is militancy a solution to the Kashmir issue?
A- Militancy has helped in the past in highlighting an issue that was almost forgotten, the unresolved Kashmir dispute. However, continued militancy could prove counterproductive. Whichever way you turn the prism, militancy is detested throughout the world. It is unwise to get excited by gains of militancy at the local level and ignore the negative political impact it has around the world.
Q- How do you see the role of Pakistan television vis-à-vis the Kashmir issue?
A- It is negative. PTV has emerged as a biased mouthpiece out of tune with the era of media invasion. Their newsroom is a hub of fiction. It is difficult to tell whether one is watching PTV drama serials or watching PTV news. They don’t report, they create.
Q- How do you look at India´s confidence building measures announced on 22 October?
A- On the face of it they do look innocent and harmless. But including humanitarian issues like the treatment of Pakistani children was petty and mean, and Pakistan merely mimicked India in its repsonse. Humanitarian issues are better left to the people of India and Pakistan. Overall it does seem that India has not been able to convince Pakistan that they mean business.
Q- How do the Kashmiris look at the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service?
A- At least my wife will not have to come via Dubai. That is equally true for thousands of divided families. This service should not be held hostage to the primitive behaviour of the two nations.
Q- Do you think India and Pakistan can sort out their problems on their own?
A- Never. Third party facilitation or supervision or participation or coercion is an imperative in trying to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Q- What do you think is wrong with the approach of India and Pakistan to Kashmir?
A- Over 55 years after independence, their behaviour is a matter of shame for every South Asian. Irrespective of their public postures, both the countries are averse to the idea of allowing Kashmiris to choose their own destiny.