Pak agrees to India’s plea, not to invite Hurriyat
1 July 2001
The Indian Express
Islamabad: The row between India and Pakistan over inviting the Hurriyat leaders to meet Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf during his forthcoming New Delhi visit has finally been settled with Islamabad agreeing to India’s request not to do so. Pakistan officials confirming media reports today said Pakistan is no longer pushing for a meeting between Hurriyat leaders and Musharraf during his visit to India. ‘‘This proposition to not to invite Hurriyat leaders has been made to us by India and we have accepted it’’, they said. English daily Dawn quoted a senior official as having said, ‘‘we are not pressing hard for the meeting. We expected that the Indians would show better judgment and not impede the APHC’s formal meeting with Musharraf. That did not happen. So at this point our focus is on the main summit.’’ Pakistan’s decision not to invite hurriyat leaders follows strong messages sent by India though diplomatic channels that it would not permit the Hurriyat leaders to meet Musharraf even if Pakistan invites them for a ‘‘high tea’’ reception being hosted by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi on July 14. The official, however, denied that Pakistan by dropping the proposal for a formal Hurriyat-Musharraf meeting has accepted New Delhi’s position on Kashmir. ‘‘Our position is that Kashmiris are an integral part of any final solution to the Kashmir problem. We have kept Kashmiri leaders abreast of all new developments on this issue. We would try to press for some sort of a tripartite framework once the two leaders meet in India,’’ he was quoted as saying. ‘‘However, at this point the most important concern is to establish mutual trust between India and Pakistan. The rest will follow’’, said the official. The official said the idea for the Hurriyat-Musharraf meeting was conveyed to the Indians by Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Ashraf Jehangir Qazi and at that time it was hoped that this was a viable way to keep the Kashmiris plugged into at the dialogue between the two countries. ‘‘We were also hoping that the tripartite peace initiative that got stuck on New Delhi’s refusal to give the Hurriyat delegation permission to visit Pakistan, could be revived this way,’’ the source said. Despite elaborate explanations from Pakistan officials, diplomatic sources here see this as an yet another snub delivered by Pakistan officials to the Hurriyat leaders who in the hope of a tripartite talks burnt their bridges with the Indian leaders. The first snub came when Pakistan accepted the Indian invitation for Musharraf to visit New Delhi just hours after it was announced. It was subsequently explained by Pakistan Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar that tripartite process was the original idea of Hurriyat and Islamabad had only endorsed it. Pakistan, however, maintains that it continues to engage Hurriyat leaders at different levels. Early this week Sattar is reported to have had a long meeting with former Hurriyat Conference chairman, Mirwaiz Farook in Mali during the Foreign Ministers meeting of the OIC at Mali. Today’s comments attributed to the officials by Dawn stating that Pakistan had decided not to invite Hurriyat leaders for a meeting with Musharraf followed that meeting.