Hurriyat bats for J&K economic independence

In a major shift in policies, moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Wednesday revealed that economic independence was as important as political independence for Kashmiris and the separatist conglomerate will not hesitate in talking about economic problems faced by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Economic independence is as important as political independence. The concept of economic independence which has come to fore in the last ten years or so can’t be negated,” Mirwaiz told Deccan Herald.

“The path on which India and Pakistan is moving, it seems Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) are the most important part of it. We have to see what role the Hurriyat has in the changing scenario,” he added.

Farooq said when Hurriyat was formed in 1993, these issues were not of prime importance.
“That time, the only focus was political independence. But in today’s world, at several instances we have seen economic independence become more important than political independence,” he said. “Azadi (freedom) can’t be limited to political issues only. We have to see what our resources in Kashmir are. We have to think about tourism, water resources and other issues of prime importance.”

The moderate Hurriyat leader accepted that people of Kashmir are in favour of economic independence. “People have given us positive response for raising such issues. Hurriyat will hold seminars, debates and will involve civil society in it. Till the political independence of Kashmir, we can’t allow anybody to exploit our resources,” he added.

Asked whether Hurriyat will support the civil society groups fighting for return of power projects from the National Hydro Electric Corporation (NHPC), he said: “Definitely. We will extend our full support to them. We will talk on every issue which touches the economic interests of Kashmiris.”
Farooq said that they will raise the issue of exploitation of natural resources of J&K, with both the governments of India and Pakistan. “Not only with the government of India, we will also raise such issues with the government of Pakistan. Whenever dams and water sharing agreements were signed Kashmiris were never taken into confidence,” he said.

Asked why it took Hurriyat this long to raise such issues, he said: “Time wasn’t conducive for such issues then. There was catch and kill going on in Kashmir. But now even the Army is trying to find a political role in Kashmir. They (Army) want to institutionalise their role in Kashmir now.”

On reports of rift within the Hurriyat, he said: “What happened at Hurriyat office recently wasn’t in good taste. But forum politics is different. Managing a party is easy but managing a forum is difficult.”

“But after yesterday’s meeting, I am hopeful that all the leaders will abide by the directions passed,” he added.

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