Hurriyat criticises Pakistan-based militants for poll boycott (Lead)

April 16th, 2009 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, April 16 (IANS) The separatist Hurriyat Conference Thursday criticised the Pakistan-based militant conglomerate, the United Jehad Council (UJC), for asking Kashmiris to boycott the Lok Sabha polls.
Acting chairperson of the moderate Hurriyat group Maulana Abbas Ansari said the UJC led by Syed Salahuddin was confused as the umbrella organisation of various militant groups chose not to interfere in the 2008 assembly elections.

“In 2008, the UJC said they would not interfere with the elections and now they are asking people to boycott them. It is confusing,” Ansari told a cable TV channel here.

The UJC, a conglomerate of about a dozen militant groups fighting in Kashmir, last week asked the people to stay away from the poll process.

The Hurriyat Conference, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has also decided not to call for a boycott of parliamentary elections saying elections had nothing to do with the resolution of the Kashmir problem.

“These are for day to day governance and development. For us in the Hurriyat Conference holding elections is a non-issue,” Ansari, a prominent Shia leader, said.

After three days of discussions here, the group announced that the elections were no alternative to “the right to self-determination” but did not specifically ask Kashmiris to keep away from the polls.

Sources said Hurriyat constituents were divided over the issue since its boycott appeal was ignored by the people during the December 2008 assembly elections.

The hardline Hurriyat group headed by Syed Ali Geelani has also called for an election boycott in the state, which elects six members to the Lok Sabha including three from the Kashmir Valley.

In a related development, National Conference president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah said his priority was to help resume the stalled dialogue between India and Pakistan.

“My first priority is to work for resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue,” Abdullah said.

He said that he would also try to restore the dialogue process between Hurriyat leaders and the union government.

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