April 2000 News

Time has come for talks on Kashmir, says Geelani

5 April 2000
Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and another senior leader Abdul Gani Bhat emerging from six-month in jail, today said time had come for opening a dialogue on Kashmir. Talking is essential and one cannot go without dialogue... What matters is who talks to whom, the Hurriyat leaders said in their first comment to PTI after release from Jodhpur jail. Claiming that their detention had been without grounds, Geelani and Bhat called for release of other detained leaders of the Conference in the interest of peace as the situation in Kashmir was deteriorating. The leaders claimed that their release had been brought about due to global pressure on India and supported the US President Bill Clinton’s recent statement that there could be no military solution in Kashmir. While, calling for an independent inquiry Into the recent massacre of Sikhs in Chithisinghpura in south Kashmir, the two leaders harped on their old stand that while India and Pakistan were two principal parties to the Kashmir dispute, the final arbitrators could only be the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Geelani, considered a hard-liner, said that Hurriyat’s stand remained unchaged that Kashmir was a disputed territory and that India should fulfil its commitments, an apparent reference to plebicite. Favouring immediate resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan with active involvement of true representatives of Jammu and Kashmir, Geelani said dialouge should be resumed between the parties to the dispute earnestly. Geelani, fire-brand leader of Jammat-e-Islami, a constituent of Hurriyat Conference, declined comments of the Union Home Minister, L K Advani’s reported remark yesterday that the release of Hurriyat leaders was not casual gesture. He reiterated Hurriyat’s stand and said the Kashmir issue could be resolved only after involving all the three parties to the dispute. Whatever is the outcome of the talks will be acceptable to all the parties and the dispute will be resolved, Geelani said. About the recent military take-over in Pakistan, Geelani said it was hardly a matter of concern for Hurriyat or people of the state. Bhat, another senior leader and spokesman of the Hurriyat, said there has to be dialogue as talks are essential to politics and if you do not talk then what else can you do? We consider there are two parties to disputes — India and Pakistan — and people of the state are the final arbitrators of the problem, he said. Asked what would be the stand of Hurriyat in the absence of refusal by New Delhi to engage in dialogue with the military regime in Pakistan until cross-border terrorism was stopped, Bhat said talks are entered into with only who rules and what is the problem, New Delhi had earlier talked to General Zia-ul-Haq. Asked about recent offers by various political parties and individuals to act as a go-between with the Hurriyat and the Centre, Geelani said the dialogue has to be between three parties and no other combination can solve it. Bhat said Kashmiris want to achieve a breakthrough and if they (India and Pakistan) talk, I am sure they will be helped by Hurriyat Conference. However, both the leaders were reticent when asked whether Pakistan was interested in talking to India over Kashmir without naming the people of the state as party to the dispute. About the Kashmiri migrants, Geelani said they are and will remain the part and parcel of the Kashmiri society and the Hurriyat Conference would try and bring them back to their hearth and home which they had left behind in the Valley. (PTI)


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