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Sheikh Aziz joins Hurriyat faction

Srinagar, January 11, 2008:

The Jammu Kashmir Peoples League formally joined the moderate faction of Kashmir’s separatist alliance All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Friday.

The league headed by senior separatist Sheikh Abdul Aziz had been in talks with the chairman APHC Mirwaiz Umar Farooq over the issue since Aziz's release from jail recently.

The move by league comes amid calls for unification among the disintegrated separatist camp in Kashmir.

While joining the Hurriyat today, Aziz accused India of preventing the unification of separatist parties.

“The aggressor (India) is scared of the unification of the pro-freedom leadership,” said Aziz.

Another separatist, Shabir Shah who heads the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, proposed a six point proposal for unification among the Kashmir separatists this week.

Hurriyat Conference, the major alliance of Kashmir more than two dozen separatist groups, demanding freedom from India, split in 2003 with hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani leading the breakaway hardline faction.

Others such as the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front headed by Yasin Malik stayed outside the Hurriyat factions.

Shah’s proposals were welcomed by the moderate faction, but downplayed by the hardline one which accuses the moderates of diverting from the Hurriyat Constitution, and are opposing bilateral dialogue with India.

Aziz declined to comment on the reasons for choosing the moderate faction over the hardline.

Aziz was recently released after being in jail for three years. “India had put me behind bars on false charges only because I wanted to unify the pro-freedom leadership,” he said.

He said that dialogue process between India and Pakistan can only solve Kashmir issue. He accused India of sabotaging the process.

“The stubborn attitude of the Indian government has rendered this process a useless exercise,” said Aziz.

He said that India is not serious about solving the Kashmir issue and it is resorting to dilly-dallying tactics and buying time.

Aziz also praised the four point formula put forward by the Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

At Hurriyat office Aziz was welcomed by senior separatist Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat.

Hurriyat Conference (on Wikipedia)

Kashmir Conflict (on Wikipedia)

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