The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak hawk sings Simla tune

Deoband (UP)/New Delhi, July 17: Pakistani hardliner Maulana Fazl-ur Rehman today opposed third-party mediation in the Kashmir problem and repeated his well-known stand that the Simla Agreement should be the guiding principle in resolving the tangle.

“It is a big issue between India and Pakistan which needs to be solved urgently. But it should be done bilaterally and in the spirit of the Simla Agreement,” the chief of Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam said on his arrival in Delhi today. He reiterated that there was no room for violence and the Kashmir tangle should be solved through dialogue.

The Pakistani hardliner, who had lost the contest for prime ministership by only one vote, also voiced his support for a dialogue yesterday at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh.

The renewed peace process has generated new hope and it was time the neighbours sidelined other issues and addressed the core problems, he said.

Elaborating on his insistence on a bilateral resolution of the Kashmir issue, Rehman said third-party mediation would not end in suggestions and advice.

After a few days, the outside force would like to dominate both India and Pakistan. Though he did not name it, his reference to the US was not lost on the gathering at Delhi.

Led by Rehman, a four-member delegation, including his deputy, Hafeez Hussain Ahmed, and parliamentarians Gul Naseeb and Qazi Hamidullah, came to India on Tuesday on the invitation of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind. He visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar, stayed in Deoband for two days before moving to Delhi this afternoon.

In a white pathan suit and yellow printed turban, Rehman looked at ease while facing the media this afternoon at the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind office in Delhi. “I am carrying the message of peace from the people of Pakistan for their brethren in India,” he said.

“I am overwhelmed by the reception and the love I received from the people of India. This is the message that I will take back with me to Pakistan.”

The maulana refused to be dragged into controversial issues. Asked about his threat a few months ago to storm Afghanistan with five lakh students to throw out the Americans, Rehman said: “Thandi baatein keejiye, talqh baatein chod dijiye (please talk about cooler issues, why rake up controversies).”

Asked about cross-border terrorism and the violence in Kashmir, Rehman shot back: “What is terrorism' How do you define it'” He argued that for the independence of India, a large number of people had resorted to armed action and violence.

Expressing a similar sentiment in Deoband the day before, he had said there was no room for terrorism in Islam, but added in the same breath that what was happening in Kashmir was not terrorism but a “struggle for independence”.

He felt that for a solution, India and Pakistan would have to take the views of the Kashmiri people into account.

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