April 2001 News

With Atal in saddle there’s always hope: Lone

7 April 2001
The Hindustan Times
Arun Joshi

Jammu: Abdul Ghani Lone doesn"t stop believing -in the ceasefire, in the talks or in Prime Minister Vajpayee's peace initiatives. "As long as Vajpayee is in the saddle, there is always a possibility of the Kashmir dispute finding a solution. It could result in an accord or any other bold resolution," said APHC leader Abdul Ghani Lone. Lone is regarded as a moderate who Delhi wants to win over through the latest peace offer. Lone attends APHC executive council meetings as the Peoples Conference chief. In an interview to HT today, he was lavish in his praise of the Prime Minister. "Vajpayee is the tallest personality, not just in India but in the whole of South Asia." When asked about the present peace gesture, Lone said, "Anything can be expected, an accord or any other solution as long as Vajpayee is there." But he has his doubts too. Kashmir history was replete with "betrayal and treachery by Kashmiri leadership in the past 52-53 years," he said. He is clear that "colossal sacrifices that have been made by Kashmiris will not be allowed to go waste". He weighs his words with caution. "Let's us see how things shape up," was all he would say on the offer for talks. The APHC leader said the government should have been more specific while making the offer. Lone is unhappy that all parties are being invited for the proposed dialogue. "That is not the way problems are resolved. The government is changing the ground rules of seeking resolution for conflict situations," he said. On the government's choice of K C Pant as the chief negotiator, Lone said, "I would not like to say anything since he has been named. He has a good background but how far he knows the art of negotiation will be tested." But he can"t hide his disappointment for long. "The level should have been upgraded. It could have either been Jaswant Singh or PM's Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra".


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