August 2000 News

Hurriyat calls for comprehensive talks

6 August 2000
The Daily Excelsior

New Delhi: The Hurriyat Conference tonight said unless there was a ''comprehensive'' dialogue involving all parties including Pakistan, there could not be a lasting solution to the protracted Jammu and Kashmir problem. ''Is the Government ready to involve all the actors. If we (Government) have to talk to Pakistan one day, why not now,'' Hurriyat Conference spokesman here Abdul Majid Banday told ''Star News''. Reflecting the Government view and that of his party National Conference, Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, asserted that ''Pakistan has no say on the issue.'' Asked about the prospects of the on-going talks between the Centre and the Hizbul Mujahideen militant leaders, Abdullah told the TV channel ''there is a chance for peace in Kashmir.'' These developments were pointers in that direction. To a question, he denied that Centre by only holding parleys with Hizbul Mujahideen was trying to divide the militant groups. On Hurriyat Conference being invited for parleys, he said Hizbul brought ''something concrete'' (ceasefire offer) to which the Government responded. ''Let the Hurriyat bring something to the negotiating table.'' Centre, he said, had never indicated that it was unwilling to talk to the Hurriyat. Through such parleys, ''we have nothing to lose and everything to gain,'' Abdullah said. Asked whether the Hurriyat felt marginalised following the Government move, Banday said ''not at all.'' He claimed that the Hurriyat represented the broadest spectrum of the will of the Kashmiri people. ''There is no challenge to this.'' Stressing that there had to be a ''negotiated settlement'' of the Kashmir issue, he said this could be dealt with only when the ''entire'' State of Jammu and Kashmir taken into account, clearly implying the inclusion of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). To a question whether Hurriyat was willing to talk to the Centre without Islamabad being a party, he asked ''is it possible to have a solution without Pakistan'' ?


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