Pant for one-to-one talks with Shah
16 May 2001
Srinagar: The Centre's chief negotiator for talks with Kashmiri groups, Mr. K. C. Pant, has invited the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP) chief, Mr. Shabir Shah, for one-to-one talks instead of exchanging letters saying the issues raised by him are not amenable to summary disposal. In his two-page reply to Mr. Shah's letter, Mr. Pant tried to clarify the issues raised by him. The letter, released to the press by the party general secretary, Moulana Mohammed Abdullah Taari, appreciated Mr. Shah's resolve to seek a peaceful political resolution of the Kashmir problem through dialogue. Mr. Pant said: "The issues you have raised in your letter are not amenable to summary disposal through an exchange of letters. May I suggest that we meet to discuss these and other issues. We should move ahead in search of peace and of an agreed and peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem." Maintaining that the Government was not averse to engage Pakistan in meaningful talks, Mr. Pant said the Government was hopeful that Islamabad would cooperate with India and initiate measures facilitating the process. On Kashmir being a law and order issue, Mr. Pant said, "it is important to emphasise peace because it is necessary to alleviate the sufferings of the people and not because the Kashmir problem is being treated as a mere law and order issue." Only in an atmosphere of peace could an agreed solution to the Kashmir problem be evolved. An agreed solution should be the end result of the dialogue, he said. Shah for consensus Reacting to the reply, the JKDFP sought a national consensus on the issue after which it would go ahead. The party spokesman, Mr. Saleem Geelani, said while replying to Mr. Pant's first letter people from all walks of life were taken into confidence through a seminar, and this time too "we want to have a debate on the issue so that a consensus is reached." He said the working committee would meet on May 25 to discuss the issue. The third option Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front vice- chairman, Mr. Javed Mir, has ridiculed the statement of the All- Party Hurriyat Conference executive member, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, rejecting the idea of a third option on the Kashmir issue during his recent visit to Pakistan.