March 2004 News

Hurriyat To Pak Team: You Split Us, Stop Your Games

28 March 2004
The Indian Express

New Delhi: The day after Round Two of talks with the Centre saw Hurriyat leaders engage a visiting Pakistan Peoples' Party delegation in some hard talk: the time to play Kashmir politics was over and Pakistan would do well to put behind the decades-old hatred and join the process to usher in peace in the region. Meeting the PPP delegation at the Akbar Road residence of Ram Jethmalani, who heads the Kashmir Committee, Hurriyat leaders told the PPP delegation that the conglomerate had split, mainly because of Pakistan's doing. Maulvi Abbas Ansari made it clear that the talks with Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani would continue despite reservations in certain quarters. 'They heard us quite patiently and seemed to agree that dialogue between Hurriyat and Delhi should continue because talks between India and Pakistan too are underway. We told them bluntly it was Pakistan that split the Hurriyat and now they shouldn't put hurdles while we talk to Delhi,' a Hurriyat insider told The Indian Express. Hurriyat's tough talk with the PPP team comes days after the Pakistan High Commission invited both Hurriyat factions for dinner on Pakistan's National Day. The Ansari group, at their meeting with High Commissioner Aziz Ahmad Khan and his deputy, said the differences between two groups were 'irreconciliable.' 'Even today, we tried to tell the PPP delegtion that it was important to narrow the gaps between people and remove hurdles to facilitate people to people contact and frank exchange of views,' a Hurriyat leader said. The meeting with the PPP leaders also recalled how Pakistan President Musharraf botched his Agra visit in 2001 by insisting on the centrality of the Kashmir issue in talks with India. Sardar Asif Ahmad Ali, a former minister who was in the PPP delegation, said he tried to reason with Musharraf on the eve of his visit to India about the futility of talks if Kashmir were to be made a central issue. If peace and not Kashmir had been made a central issue, it would have yielded dividends, said Ali who claimed he had been taken into confidence by Musharraf before he set out for Agra.


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