PPP, Hurriyat share 'bond of blood': Zardari

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Islamabad, Jun 24: Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said his party, now a main component of the ruling coalition, would ensure that the views of Kashmiri people were projected during talks with the Indian government to resolve the Kashmir issue.

He said this while talking to leaders of the All Parties' Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who met him here on Monday, June 23. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Zardari said the PPP and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had assured the Hurriyat team that the views of the Kashmiri leadership would be kept in mind during the coming talks with India.

The Hurriyat team is visiting Pakistan at the invitation of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for consultations with the government ahead of his visit to New Delhi on June 27.

Zardari said his party and the Hurriyat shared a ''bond of blood.'' He said PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had said that the party's existence ''starts with the Kashmir issue''.

''The PPP will adhere to the philosophies of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto and is bound to follow them. We can't deviate from them,'' he said.

A joint communique said the relationship built up between the APHC and PPP would be maintained and strengthened, Dawn newspaper reported.

They agreed to take steps to promote people-to-people contacts between the two parts of Kashmir, especially exchanges of students, youths, lawyers, representatives of the people and leaders of political parties.

''The PPP is with Kashmiri people and will support their struggle.

The APHC is the representative organisation of Kashmiris,'' the communique said.

The APHC chairman called on the Indian government to do more to resolve the Kashmir issue. ''If the Kashmir issue is to be resolved through dialogue, it is clear that one cannot clap with one hand,'' the APHC Chairman remarked.

''Just as the Pakistani leadership has shown flexibility and the Kashmiri leadership is prepared to move forward, the Indian government has to change its policy of stubbornness and rigidity,'' he said.

He said the Hurriyat wanted a solution to the issue through dialogue. ''We hope that the Indian government, while taking advantage of the situation, will come forward to resolve this issue because Kashmir is not an issue about territory or politics. It is an issue of humanity and tens of millions of people are affected by it.'' The Mirwaiz said he hoped that the Hurriyat's views would be kept in mind whenever the governments of both countries held talks.

During the meeting, Zardari said a lasting peace could not be achieved in South Asia without the peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. He said no solution to the issue was possible without ''taking along Kashmiris from both sides of the Line of Control.'' The APHC leaders also met with Prime Minister Gilani, who assured them that the government was committed to supporting the struggle of the Kashmiris and determined to seek a peaceful settlement of the ''core issue'' keeping in view the aspirations of the people of Kashmir.


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