October 2003 News

Advani hints at Kashmir 'decentralisation'

24 October 2003
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: India's Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani said here on Friday that he could talk with the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) on 'decentralisation' of power but there would be no compromise on India's 'unity and sovereignty'.'We have no problems in talking to Hurriyat,' Advani said while addressing troops of the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police. 'We have been talking to Bodo and Naga groups,' he said referring to talks New Delhi has been holding with separatist groups in India's northeast. 'We can as well hold talks with Hurriyat. But there will be no compromise on the country's unity and sovereignty. He did not elaborate but in the past New Delhi has hinted that it could consider giving Kashmir's administration more powers, except in key areas such as defence, finance and foreign affairs.Meanwhile, former APHC chief Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said in Srinagar that any talks between the APHC and New Delhi should be on the Kashmir dispute rather than handing more power to the Held Kashmir administration.'We make it clear that any dialogue process should be aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue,' he said. 'After the peace proposals, we now hear that Advani wants to talk on decentralisation of power. It seems India has not yet made up its mind. Let them decide what they want to do and what they want to talk about. We will not talk for power or chief minister's chair or economic gains,' Farooq said in his Friday sermon. Advani said NN Vohra would continue to be New Delhi's pointman on Kashmir. 'We appreciate his vital inputs about Kashmir.'Advani also said that India's new peace offer was 'in no way an indication of a change in our policy about talking to Pakistan'. 'Our stance is the same, that Pakistan has to stop infiltration, destroy the terrorist infrastructure and build a congenial atmosphere before any talks can begin,' he said. AFP adds The leader of the main opposition in Held Kashmir, Omar Abdullah on Friday urged New Delhi to extend its dialogue offer to all separatists and start talks with Pakistan. 'I urge the central government to broaden the talks offer to involve other separatists, including Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik and Shabbir Shah,' Abdullah told a news conference in Srinagar.


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