May 2001 News

UK Kashmiri groups laud India’s offer

26 May 2001
The Hindustan Times
Vijay Dutt

London: MOST KASHMIRI groups here have been positive in their reaction to Prime Minister Vajpayee's invitation to Gen Musharraf to visit India. Nazir Gilani, secretary-general of the Jammu and Kashmir Council for Human Rights told the Hindustan Times, "We whole-heartedly welcome the invitation by India. It is a bold step on part of the Indian Prime Minister." Shabir Choudhry, president of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front also echoed a similar sentiment. "Its good that the relations between India and Pakistan are taking a new turn. We hope the two leaders will be able to establish a warm relationship and discuss the issue of Kashmir in a friendly atmosphere. Gilani urged Pakistan to reciprocate to the invitation in a good spirit. "It indeed is what Pakistan was demanding and desiring," he said. "It is in the interest of the people of Kashmir that Pakistan should accept the invitation. "The desire to open a dialogue is the first step towards structuring an agreement," Gilani said. But urged Islamabad to get out of the old rigidity and be flexible. The world has moved a lot and is very different from what it was in 1947-48, and the negation of the responsibility to resolve the problem would not now do any good to anyone, he added. Gilani attributed the end of the ceasefire to the failure of Kashmiri leadership to respond appropriately. He suggested that at some stage the Kashmiris must be brought on board to help resolve the problem. Shabir Choudhry, however, felt that India and Pakistan were playing their cards in a manner that indicates their wish to settle the Kashmir issue bilaterally. At some stage we feel that Kashmiris must also be involved. India can hold talks with Kashmiris and so can Pakistan. He was also, like Gilani, not perturbed by the revocation of the ceasefire. "The initiative known as ceasefire has ended. I don"t know if this has surprised many, it certainly did not surprise me." "When this initiative was announced six months ago, we all thought that this step might lead us somewhere. India's peace announcement came after the failure of Hizb's unilateral ceasefire.”


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