May 2000 News

Talks with Hurriyat not now: Advani

6 May 2000
Vinay Kumar

Nagpur: The Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, today said the Government did not have any ''intention for the time being'' to extend a formal invitation to Hurriyat leaders as part of the ongoing efforts to usher in peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Categorically refusing to react to the reported statement of senior Hurriyat leader and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) president, Mr. Yasin Malik, that Pakistan should be part of a tripartite dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue, Mr. Advani said the Government was aware of the ''contradictory stands'' of Hurriyat leaders. ''First, let Hurriyat leaders make up their mind,'' he said, while addressing a press conference at the Circuit House here. The Hurriyat leaders are demanding a formal invitation for talks from the Centre and involvement of Pakistan in tripartite dialogue. Taking a strident stand, Mr. Advani categorically rejected both. The Home Minister said the Government had been thinking of holding talks with various leaders and groups concerned with Kashmir for the past three months, much before the U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton''s visit to India in March. It was the first indication offered by him that the BJP-led coalition Government was not acting under any pressure in its initiative for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Categorically ruling out any talks with Pakistan till it stopped cross-border terrorism, Mr. Advani said the Government would rebuff any Pakistani attempt to internationalise the Kashmir issue. ''The vital issue is that cross-border terrorism, being aided and abetted by Pakistan, is now being discussed in various international fora,'' he said. He said the Government was repeating in Kashmir what it had done in Nagaland and Assam for initiating peace process in the recent times. ''We are talking to Naga and Bodoland groups,'' he said seeking to draw a similarity between the two situations. In his broad formulation, the Government would be ready to talk to any group or militant organisation which abjures violence and agrees to hold dialogue within four corners of the Constitution. Describing Hurriyat leaders as a ''section of dissidents'', he said they had been in jail for the past six months and it was felt that their release should be the first step in taking any peace initiative in Jammu and Kashmir and building up an atmosphere for talks to end militancy there. Mr. Advani reiterated that there was no question of either sovereignty or secession being discussed. He said even pre-1953 status would not be a precondition for holding talks. ''Our Constitution has everything and it also deals with greater autonomy and special status to Kashmir,'' he said. The Home Minister indicated that several groups and eminent people had been in touch with the Government over the past two years and the Government agreed with the assessment that the situation in Kashmir could not be retrieved with the help of security forces alone. He said the Government felt that legitimate grievances of the people should be redressed through talks. ''It is Sri Lanka''s internal problem'' To questions on Sri Lanka, he said it was the island nation''s ''internal problem'' and categorically ruled out military intervention by India. ''We are taking active interest in Sri Lanka but we will not go down the IPKF way. We have learnt from history,'' he said. Mr. Advani said there was absolutely no difference in views between the Government and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, on dealing with the situation. India was keeping a close watch on the situation and would keep in mind all ''humanitarian aspects.''


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