Congress leader Saifuddin Soz says independence first choice of Kashmiris

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Saifuddin Soz today created a fresh furore by toeing the line taken by former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Kashmir. Speaking to news agency ANI, Soz said that given a choice, Kashmiris would prefer to be independent.

Soz said, “Musharraf said Kashmiris don’t want to merge with Pakistan, their first choice is independence. The statement was true then and remains true now also. I say the same but I know that it is not possible. I am saying it for a long time.”

Soz also claimed that Musharraf had shared this view with his military brass and ministers in the government ahead of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Islamabad visit in 2007.

The veteran Congress leader has made the comment days ahead of the release of his book titled Kashmir: Glimpses of History and the Story of Struggle. The book will be released on June 25.

“May book is on that (the issue of Kashmir) After defeat in Kargil War, Musharraf could not achieve his goal. Later, he tried to convince everyone in Pakistan that Kashmiris didn’t want to merge with Pakistan. Kashmiris want independence. But independence is not possible,” Soz said.

He further said, “But independence can be achieved in a different way in which the boundaries of India and Pakistan don’t change the five-eighths of Kashmir that is with India and three-eighths that is Pakistan can sleep peacefully.”

“Formula was understood by (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee but his difficulty was system. Vajpayee has signed the Lahore Declaration after that there was situation of hope. Musharraf was working with Manmohan Singh decisively but unfortunately when the final meeting was to take place, Pakistan’s international security got vitiated,” Soz said.

Reacting to Soz’s reaction, the BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “It is very sad that a senior Congress leader like Saifuddin Soz has said so. The Congress is repeatedly trying to demean India. The Congress should tender apology over the statement.”

“Gulam Nabi Azad has also demeaned Indian Army… He said that Indian Army was responsible for genocide. His statement was endorsed by none other than the terror outfit, Lashkar-e-Taiba,” Patra said.

The Shiv Sena also lashed out at Soz’s remarks. Party spokesperson Manish Kayande said, “The Congress president should clarify if the party endorses Saifuddin Soz’s statement on Kashmir If Soz has so much love for Pakistan and Musharraf, he should consider migrating to Pakistan and become his servant.”

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy said, “As central minister he (Saifuddin Soz) benefited from Centre’s power when his daughter was kidnapped by JKLF. There is no use helping these people. Whoever wants to stay here can stay abiding by the Constitution. If they like Musharraf we will give them a one-way ticket to Pakistan.”

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