November 2000 News

''A historic occasion'' says Amanullah Khan

18 November 2000
The Hindu
B. Muralidhar Reddy

ISLAMABAD: The keenly watched marriage ceremonies of the children of the Pakistan-based Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman, Mr. Amanullah Khan and India-based Hurriyat Conference leader, Mr. Abdul Ghani Lone began here today. The interest this cross-border wedding has evoked here was evident from the gUSA list as well as from the media response. The interest it has generated is a reflection of the sad state of affairs of the relations between India and Pakistan at one level and underlines the complex nature of the Kashmir conflict. As a journalist put it the story of Kashmir in the last twelve years is all about funerals and so when it is a wedding, it is bound to attract extra attention. Who is invited, who have succeeded in securing the all important passports and visas, who is coming and who would be present at the separate receptions to be hosted by the two leaders are all matters of interest not just to the Intelligence agencies on both sides of the border but to the media as well. The nikah ceremony was performed at the residence of Mr. Khan in Rawalpindi today and the marriage ceremony will be formally completed tomorrow. Mr. Khan described it as a ''historic occasion'' and Mr. Lone said it was a social event. Both the leaders maintained that it was private affair and were seen trying to avoid giving it any political colour. Nevertheless, the marriage of Mr. Sajjad Lone, the 33-year-old second son of Mr. Lone who also dabbles in politics and Ms. Asma Khan, the 26-year-old only daughter of Mr. Khan who is a writer as well, has evoked immense interest on both sides of the border. Kashmiri leaders of all hues, from either sides of the Line of Control have gathered here for the wedding. And Mr. Lone, who was visiting Pakistan for the first time in 17 years, received a warm welcome from local Kashmiris on arrival. The leaders of ''Azad'' Kashmir were actively involved in the arrangements. Sardar Sawar Khan, member, ''Azad Kashmir Senate'', said, ''the marriage has given the leaders from the two parts of Jammu and Kashmir an opportunity to meet.'' Leaders of the Yaseen Malik faction of the JKLF and some followers of Shabir Shah, who has broken away from Mr. Lone, were also seen to be rather enthusiastic about organising the event.


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