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We are Pakistanis, says Kashmiri leader Geelani

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Last Updated: August 18, 2008, 17:36 IST

We are Pakistanis, says Kashmiri leader Geelani

Separatist leader demands merger with Pakistan, flays India.

Srinagar: Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Monday demanded the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan, as leaders of the moderate Hurriyat faction spoke about independence and a dialogue over the state.

Addressing a mammoth gathering at the tourist reception centre here, Gillani said there was "no solution to the Kashmir issue other than merger with Pakistan".

"We are Pakistanis and Pakistan is us because we are tied with the country through Islam," he roared, as the crowd cheered him and chanted: "Hum Pakistani hain, Pakistan hamara hai" (We are Pakistanis, Pakistan is ours).

Taking a dig at the moderate Hurriyat leaders who shared the stage with him, Gillani said the leadership issue of the Kashmiri separatist movement was "solved today".

"Do you have faith in my leadership? I will be faithful to you till my death and will carry everyone along," he said, as the crowd applauded him shouting in unison "zaroor" (certainly).

Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in his speech earlier called for a trilateral dialogue over Jammu and Kashmir, whose ownership is disputed by India and Pakistan.

"We ask India to start a dialogue over Kashmir, open the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road for trade and release all Kashmiris in Indian jails," he said.

Pro-independence leader Yasin Malik said that Kashmiris want "complete freedom" -- implying from both India and Pakistan.

However, Gillani countered their remarks saying all these issues would be solved once Kashmiris get their right to self-determination and merge with Pakistan.

The two factions of the Hurriyat Conference had been at loggerheads till recently but got united when the Kashmir Valley saw protests against the transfer of government land to the Amarnath shrine management two months ago.

The state government cancelled the order -- provoking protests in Jammu region and triggering an unprecedented communal divide in the state.

first published:August 18, 2008, 17:36 IST
last updated:August 18, 2008, 17:36 IST