Under pressure,Lashkar says peace an option in Kashmir

Apparently feeling the heat over its role in the Mumbai terror attacks,the Lashkar-e-Toiba has made conciliatory noises in the main theatre of its operations,Kashmir.

Written by RIYAZ WANI | Srinagar | Published:January 19, 2009 12:06 am

Apparently feeling the heat over its role in the Mumbai terror attacks,the Lashkar-e-Toiba has made conciliatory noises in the main theatre of its operations,Kashmir.

In a statement,the outfit said it doesn’t see armed struggle as the only means to liberate Kashmir and would be inclined to play a peaceful role if it facilitated the achievement of its goal.

After 15 years of a violent presence in the Valley,marked by high-profile suicide missions on sensitive security targets,the Lashkar is talking of a “peaceful role”.

“We just want freedom for Kashmir. And if it comes peacefully,we will welcome it,” the Lashkar’s spokesperson in the Valley,said Dr Abdullah Gaznavi. Denying involvement in the Mumbai attacks,he added: “We don’t see armed struggle as the only means to achieve our goal. If the world is ready to listen and play its role,there is no reason to fight.”

The outfit also tried to delink itself

from groups operating at the international level. “We have no global agenda. Our struggle is strictly confined to Kashmir,” Gaznavi said.

Welcoming British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s recent Kashmir statement as a proof that the world recognises settlement of the Kashmir dispute as a pre-requisite for peace in the region,he said: “The British government is responsible for the Kashmir dispute and it is as such obliged to play its role in the resolution of Kashmir.” Gaznavi urged Miliband to follow up his words with concrete action.

Gaznavi’s statement follows an year of considerably diminished militant violence in the Valley,ending with a record turnout in the recent Assembly elections.

The Mumbai attacks aside,the Lashkar has also reconciled to a marginal role in the Valley’s changing secessionist landscape. In fact,right at the start of 2008,it said it was against use of violence to enforce an election boycott.

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