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Kosovo independence gives new hope to Kashmir: Mirwaiz

Washington DC, February 21, 2008:

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of Kashmir's moderate separatist alliance All Parties Hurriyat Conference here Thursday said that the birth of Kosovo as an independent nation has given new hope and optimism to the people of Kashmir.

He was speaking at the open forum, 'Peace Process between India and Pakistan: The Role of Kashmiri Leadership', organised by Kashmir American Council (Kashmir Center) here.

Mirwaiz, the chief cleric of Srinagar, urged the international community to understand the realities about the Kashmir dispute and persuade New Delhi and Islamabad to engage genuine Kashmir leadership in the peace process for the settlement of the 60-year-old dispute.

He said that for a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute, it is the people of Kashmir on both sides of the Line of Control who, being the principle party, will have to play the key role.

"In the past, Kashmiris have been dissociated with every effort for the settlement of the problem. Let this not happen again. We believe that the road to peace in South Asia lies in the final settlement of the Kashmir conflict," Mirwaiz said.

He also urged New Delhi to abide by its promise of zero-tolerance against the human rights carried by troops and paramilitary troops in Kashmir and called for the release of political prisoners and repeal of draconian laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Disturbed Areas Act.

"The impact of the dialogue felt on the streets of Kashmir will enhance the peace process and may lead it to its logical conclusion," said Mirwaiz.

He emphasised that the dialogue process needs to be made all-inclusive.

"The representatives of minority community and the leadership of the indigenous gun yielding youth must be included in the peace process. Then alone will the initiative taken by New Delhi and Islamabad succeed."

Earlier, Director Kashmir Centre Ghulam Nabi Fai in his speech said, "Today we are celebrating the birth of a new nation, Kosovo, which became a reality through the support, understanding and engagement of the United States. The emergence of Kosovo as 193rd independent country of the world has contradicted the misperception and misconception that after 9/11 international community does not support the freedom struggles."

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