December 2003 News

In No Hurry, Govt To Hold Hurriyat Talks Post-SAARC

28 December 2003
The Indian Express

New Delhi: The Centre's dialogue with Abbas Ansari-led Hurriyat Conference will take place after the SAARC summit in Islamabad with both sides currently working towards an agenda for talks before deciding on the date. Centre's interlocutor on Kashmir N.N. Vohra has held a meeting with Home Secretary N. Gopalaswami and Special Secretary (J-K) B.B. Mishra to discuss the agenda for talks and the dates convenient to Deputy PM L.K. Advani and the Hurriyat leadership. Among those who attended the meeting were R&AW Chief C.D. Sahay, Director of Intelligence Bureau K.P. Singh, Additional Secretary (Counter- terrorism) Meera Shankar and PMO's advisor on Kashmir A.S. Dulat. Sources say the decision to send an invitation to Hurriyat for a dialogue with Advani will be taken in the coming week even as Vohra and Dulat are in touch with Kashmiri leaders to chalk out an agenda for talks. While the Centre has been keen to hold the meeting before SAARC, the Hurriyat leadership wants more time for intra-party consultations. The Kashmiri amalgam also wants to read the signals emerging from the Islamabad regional conclave before they embark on the dialogue track. Government sources say the Abbas Ansari faction is trying to forge some kind of a consensus among the various factions within the conglomerate and also with the other separatist groups. Some of the Kashmiri leaders, including Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, former Hurriyat Chairman Prof Abdul Ghani Bhatt, Sajjad Lone and Bilal Lone were in the Capital till last week, meeting diplomats. They are expected to be in Delhi next week. 'They expect the foreign diplomats to play a positive role in the talks, and also to urge Pakistan to soften its stand on the issue,' said a senior government official. Sources said the Centre is in no hurry and is willing to give all the time to Hurriyat that they want. 'We are not going to pressure them. The situation is complex and there can be no shortcuts. Let them take their time, build a consensus and come for the talks in a relaxed frame of mind,' he added. According to the Centre, the concerns of Hurriyat leaders are genuine and there is an angle of personal security. 'There are examples, where militants who adopted a moderate stance or gave up militancy, were killed. Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Lone, former Mirwaiz Maulvi Mohammad Farooq, Hizb- ul-Mujahideen leader Abdul Majid Dar, MLC Javed Shah and counter- insurgent leader Kuka Parrey - were all shot dead,' said an official.


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