March 2004 News

UK Panel Meets With Shabir, Yasin Malik

25 March 2004
The Indian Express

Srinagar: A team of officials from the British High Commission, who are currently in Kashmir, today met with senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah. At the meeting, British High Commissioner Sir Michael Arthur asked Shah, who heads the Democratic Freedom Party, why his party has chosen to stay out of the talks process at a time when the Hurriyat Conference has entered into a dialogue with New Delhi. To which Shah said that though he was a pioneer in starting a composite dialogue on Kashmir, New Delhi has time and again displayed insincerity and betrayed him, sources present at the meeting told The Indian Express. According to the sources, Shah also said that while his party and the Jamiat Islami and leaders like Yasin Malik, Syed Ali Shah Geelani (both have opposed the Hurriyat-Centre negotiations), too, favour a dialogue, all of them need some kind of a guarantee from a neutral country that New Delhi would be 'sincere'. Shah also told the British High Commission officials that if New Delhi does not want the UK or US or EU as mediator, one of these countries should at least 'monitor' talks. 'I will be talking to New Delhi soon to ask if you can monitor the talks,' Shah told Arthur. 'We can start talking after the polls are over. The India- Pakistan talks are also scheduled around that time. Let us see what happens after that but monitoring the talks is imperative,' the sources quoted Shah as having told the officials. Sources said the team later met JKLF chief Yasin Malik who also stressed on the rights violations.


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