April 2000 News

Hurriyat ready for talks with Centre without any preconditions

16 April 2000
Hindustan Times

New Delhi: THE JAMMU and Kashmir Hurriyat Conference today asked for a formal offer for talks from the Centre, though without any preconditions. ''The Centre should make the offer without insisting that the talks be held within the framework of the Constitution,'' a Hurriyat Conference spokesperson said here today. The response comes nearly 10 days after Union Home Minister L. K. Advani?s announcement on the Centre''s willingness to talk to Kashmiri separatist leaders. The Hurriyat Conference, meanwhile, would like the Centre to ?demonstrate its seriousness? for dialogue by releasing all its detained leaders. Three of the 15 senior Hurriyat leaders, including its chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, were released on April 3 after over seven months of detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act. The Government had labeled the move as part of its policy of reconciliation with the Kashmiris. The Hurriyat spokesperson said once the Centre had made its position clear regarding talks, the offer would be discussed at the highest policy-making forum of the Conference. He, however, clarified that involvement of Pakistan in the talks was essential as one-thirds of Jammu and Kashmir''s territory was under its occupation. Reacting to the Centre''s insistence that Pakistan could not be involved in any kind of talks on Kashmir in the absence of a democratic Government, the Hurriyat spokesperson stated that resolution of Kashmir issue cannot await return of democracy in Pakistan. He asserted that the delay in working out a settlement on Kashmir would be inimical to the interests of the people in the sub-continent. The spokesperson indicated that the Hurriyat leaders were willing to explore all possibilities of resolving the Kashmir issue ?with an open mind.?


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