May 2000 News

APHC steps to resolve Kashmir imbroglio

3 May 2000
Indian Express
Santwana Bhttacharya

New Delhi: On a mysterious trip to Delhi, the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders today offered to mediate between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir imbroglio. ''We are prepated to facilitate a dialogue between Islamabad and Delhi with a clean heart and a sense of accommodation. We are prepared to go to Islamabad and come to Delhi to take the process forward,'' the APHC spokesperson, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat said, moving a little away from their earlier insistence on a tripartite talk. Deriding any intermediary role that former Congress leader and J&K Chief Minister Syed Mir Qasim could play in thawing of relations between the Central Government and the Kashmiri leaders, Bhat said, ''We have all respect of Mir Qasim saab. But I haven''t seen him for the last three decades,'' Emphasising on the same point, a close aide of APHC chief Syed Ali Shah Gilani, who is also in town, said, ''Mir Qasim saab is over eighty years old, he''s been away from the political arena for years now. He has no clue about the grass-root situation. it would need a younger and more dynamic person to set the ball rolling. Three of the main APHC leaders - Gilani, Bhat and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq - are in town for a couple of days, ostensibly for medical check-ups. They also intended to meet Yasin Malik at the Batra hospital, where the latter was admitted with heart problems before being shifted bact to Tihar Jail today. However, on being asked whether there was any formal intimation for a dialogye from the Government of India, Bhat, said none. But admitted ''there has been interactions, but no dialogue on this visit''. ''The bottlenecks have to be removed first. It''s time for India an dPakistan to strike bargains. On our part we cannot go into a dialoge stratightaway without preparing the agendfa with our National Council (a seven-party body) members,'' he added, indicating that 24-party Hurriyat is not above it. Though an unmistakable softening of stance was evident, the APHC leaders said they are scheduled to meet Pakistani High Commissioner Asraf Jehangir Qazi tomorrow almost as balancing at. ''If India and Pakistan are willing to take one step forward we are prepared to take two. We cannot ignore the writing on the wall and it says the people of South Asia wants peace,'' Bhatt said. In fact, every third sentence that the APHC leaders uttered was prepared with peacetalk. Commenting on the fillers went by the Central Government and the release a number of Kashmiri leaders from the jail, the APHC leaders said, ''They are actually taken a step backward by not letting us meet Yasin at the hospital today. The trust is still not there. The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik was taken back to the jail presumably for the purpose of releasing him.


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