US team on Kashmir due in Delhi on 23rd
13 May 2001
New Delhi: A bi partisan team of 15 influential US Congressmen is arriving in New Delhi later this month to broker a formula for settling the Kashmir issue.† The team members will hold extensive talks with leaders of all the major mainstream political parties of India besides the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and government functionaries, reports Kashmir Observer Sunday. The team comprising both Republicans and Democrats are expected to arrive on May 23, highly placed official sources said. The visit follows the just- concluded trip of US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who delivered a letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee commending the latterís initiative on Kashmir.† The Congress members, sources said, will hold meetings with top brass of parties owing allegiance to Sangh Parivar besides Congress and others.They will also meet the leaders of the All parties Hurriyat Conference. An APHC delegation, which the sources say, is to be led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, will be camping in Delhi during the US teamís stay there.† Diplomatic channels in Pakistan have also been activated for the process which sources say is sure to have far-reaching consequences. Pant meets Muslim leaders Meanwhile, New Delhiís chief negotiator on Kashmir K C Pant, who is soon taking over charge of Kashmir Affairs after a separate ministry is announced by the Prime Minister, has accelerated his activities.† Similarly major political parties like Congress have formed separate cells to interact with Pant team. Pant, who has met several opposition leaders, has began his round of discussions with Muslim leaders. He met G M Banatwalla of Indian Union Muslim League and is scheduled to meet leaders of Jamiat Ulema- e-Hind on Sunday. His meeting with Jamiat leaders is being considered highly significant, given the organisationís close links with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan which is regarded as the patron of various groups active in Kashmir.† The sources say Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, which subscribes to the Deobandi school of thought, is planning to hold a conclave in India shortly and various leaders of the sect from Pakistan including Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman, who is widely believed to be patron of Harkat-ul-Mujahedin and Jaishe Muhammed groups, are being invited.