The head of Hizbul Mujahideen on Thursday said that no government would be able to survive in Islamabad if it abandoned the Kashmir cause and warned the new regime not to make the mistake of pursuing a friendship with New Delhi at the cost of Kashmir.
“No government in Pakistan, whether it under Nawaz Sharif or anybody else, will remain in power if it abandons the Kashmir cause,” Syed Salahuddin, head of the United Jihad Council and leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen, told Indian media.
Salahuddin advised the incoming government not to repeat the mistake of putting Kashmir on the back burner and try to foster friendship with New Delhi through trade, cultural exchanges and tourism.
“Because the PML-N has won a strong mandate, we will expect them to follow Pakistan’s traditional policy on Kashmir, which is to resolve the issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir through UN resolutions,” he said.
“Nawaz Sharif and his party’s leadership must understand that till the time Kashmir is under India’s occupation, national security of Pakistan, the safety and security of its borders, and its economic stability is at stake,” Salahuddin said.
“Pakistan’s agriculture and energy needs depend on the waters that flow down from Kashmir,” Salahuddin said.
“So our expectations from Nawaz Sharif’s government are that he will make this the first priority and give it central place in the Indo-Pak relationship. Otherwise, it will be lethal to the interests of Pakistan and Kashmir.”
“In the name of confidence-building measures, in the name of friendship, in the name of trade and culture, moving ahead to establish a relationship with India and going for a one-sided surrender on Kashmir would hurt the feelings of the Kashmiri people and do irreparable damage to their confidence,” Salahuddin said.
“If Pakistan is not able to help us militarily, it must continue to help us in diplomatic and political forums,” he added.
Salahuddin challenged Pakistan to stop advocating Kashmir’s cause if it felt that doing so would harm it.
“In 2001 there was a ceasefire between India and Pakistan and a fence was erected across the border, but the Mujahideen continued their activity. We can sustain our armed struggle without any foreign support for a hundred years, the topography of Kashmir is very favourable,” he said.
Salahuddin said he disagreed with the broad political consensus in Pakistan that Kashmir was not the immediate priority.
“We disagree with that,” he said. “We were trying to explain to President Musharraf too that if you want to take any measures on the diplomatic or political front, please do that, but the militant infrastructure on the ground is your basic leverage and provides you with your bargaining power. If you get anything, it is only because of that. And when your bargaining power is gone, what will you go to the table with? What have the weak ever achieved through negotiations?”