May 2000 News

Hurriyat leaders meet Pak envoy

4 May 2000
Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Jammu: The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is exchanging its notes with Pakistani diplomats here on how to proceed on the dialogue as and when it is initiated with the Indian leadership to resolve the vexed Kashmir problem. Three top APHC leaders — chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Prof. Abdul Ghani Bhat — had a nearly five-hour-long meeting with Pakistan High Commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi at his residence in Delhi last night. The meeting started around 7 p.m. and lasted till 11.45 p.m. This was not a courtesy call but a “serious discussion on crucial issues”, informed sources told The Hindustan Times. The Hurriyat leaders are in Delhi to meet the diplomats of various countries to “apprise them of their view point”. They are essentially trying to impress upon the diplomats of the Western world that how “important it was for India to remove the condition of talks within the parameters of the Indian Constitution''. Mr Geelani and his associates have repeatedly maintained that “talks within the purview of the Indian Constitution mean nothing”. The APHC chairman demands a “realistic approach from the Indian leaders in recognising that Kashmir was a dispute in which Pakistan and Kashmir’s representatives participation was must”. Last night’s meeting with Mr. Jehangir Qazi was regarded as “crucial” by the sources. They say that some of the suggestions that have been mooted for initiating a dialogue through unofficial channels by the responsible quarters in the Government were discussed in detail. Some unofficial channels are open despite vehement denials by both the sides. “The two sides will open their cards at an opportune time,” sources said. In the meantime, there is also a possibility that the Hurriyat leaders may be allowed to visit Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir. There is also pressure on Hurriyat to involve Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party president Shabir Ahmad Shah, who is close to the United States, in the dialogue process. Shah was suspended from APHC four years ago after he defied the Hurriyat stand of not meeting the then US envoy Frank Wisner. He had also gone against the APHC’s demand that he should not meet former Indian Prime Minister V.P. Singh. Shah, however, met Mr Singh when the latter visited him. The meeting with the Pakistani High Commissioner primarily centred on issues like where the dialogue should begin. What would be the Hurriyat’s role in order to keep the confidence of Kashmiri masses who have pinned massive hopes on the “peace dialogue”? As Pakistan recognises APHC as the “genuine representative of the people of Kashmir”, one of the suggestions was that Pakistan could be involved at a later stage. Hurriyat’s official stand would stay unchanged that no solution can be worked out without Islamabad’s nod. The Hurriyat also wants to be seen as an independent identity and not hostage to Islamabad’s dictates, the common perception being that the Hurriyat leaders are bound by the dictates of Pakistan. In this case. what is important is that Hurriyat has to overcome its own contradictions before really deliberating on the talks offer, the official communication on which may be matter of time. Yasin Malik released: Five senior Hurriyat leaders including chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Yasin Malik were released today after detention of more than six months under Public Safety Act (PSA) . Malik and four others were released from Tihar Jail this evening after the Jammu and Kashmir Government issued their release order, official sources said in New Delhi.


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