May 2001 News

Pant on 6-day J&K mission

27 May 2001
The Asian Age

New Delhi: The Centre’s peace negotiator, Mr K.C. Pant, will head back to Kashmir for a six-day tour of the state from Monday, even as the relevance of his role has been questioned in the wake of the proposed India-Pakistan summit. Mr Pant will visit the four regions of Srinagar, Jammu, Leh and Kargil during his stay in the state. His itinerary includes meetings with leaders of political parties, public personalities, intellectuals, representatives of trade and industry and state government officials. Mr Pant is also likely to meet the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party. The government’s peace process, which was initiated recently, is moving at a slow pace. Analysts have said the main purpose of Mr Pant’s visit to Kashmir was to convince people about the relevance of the peace process in the light of the withdrawal of the ceasefire and direct talks between India and Pakistan. The Hurriyat has firmly refused to involve itself in any dialogue with the Centre despite repeated invitations. In the absence of the APHC, the process has failed to find relevance. The critics of the Centre’s initiative say that Mr Pant is talking only to those who see the Kashmir dispute as a law and order problem. When the ceasefire was withdrawn and an invitation extended to Gen. Musharraf for talks, the Centre had said that the peace process initiated with Mr Pant as the point man will carry on. It was said that he would continue to meet a cross-section of the Kashmiri people. The bilateral talks between India and Pakistan have also made Mr Pant’s task difficult. The crucial question now is on the APHC’s involvement in the dialogue, considering that it has been recognised by Pakistan as the “true” representative of the people of Kashmir. Mr Pant is likely to explain to the Kashmiri representatives that the Centre’s initiative was still relevant even after India and Pakistan hold bilateral talks. His endeavour will be to convince people that the Centre has embarked on a comprehensive and composite dialogue to involve all sections and regions of the state.


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