Post-Khokhar: JKLF open to Delhi’s invite
28 June 2004
The Indian Express
Srinagar: A day after Pakistani Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokhar met JKLF chairman Yasin Malik, the party vice-chairman said they will consider participating in the dialogue process if the Centre invites them. ‘‘We will discuss joining the talks process in our executive body meeting, provided New Delhi sends an invitation to us,’’ Javid Ahmad Mir told The Indian Express today. ‘‘When both India and Pakistan are moving ahead with the dialogue process, there is no way we can shun talks. Today, the former arch-rivals have realised that Kashmir cannot be solved without the participation of Kashmiris. It has been our demand that Kashmiris should be given a seat in the dialogue process and our stance stands endorsed,’’ said Mir. He added that Khokhar’s meeting with Malik showed that Pakistan also realised the validity of the JKLF demand to involve Kashmiris in talks between the two neighbours. ‘‘Our signature campaign might have forced India’s and Pakistan’s leadership to rethink,’’ said Mir. Over the last 10 months, the JKLF has collected 11 lakh signatures from various parts of Jammu and Kashmir, as part of a campaign seeking the inclusion of Kashmiris in the dialogue process. The outfit expects to get the signatures of 20 lakh Kashmiris in all. ‘‘Our signature campaign got a huge acknowledgement from the recent European Union delegation. It is a document which every nation cannot brush aside,’’ said Mir. He also said that all Kashmiri separatist groups should reunite if New Delhi sends them invitations. ‘‘Except for minor differences, all separatist groups or leaders root for the same cause — peaceful resolution of Kashmir through trilateral dialogue. I think all must come together to avoid any chaos in talks. This way the talks process can move smoothly,’’ said Mir. Mir, who has led thousands of protest demonstrations and was in charge of the JKLF’s anti-election campaigns, admitted that ‘‘compulsions’’ forced the outfit to remain neutral to the feuding Hurriyat factions. ‘‘We neither supported Geelani’s faction, not supported the Ansari-led group because we did not want to take sides,’’ he said. ‘‘Instead, we ran our own programmes, including the signature campaign, which has been well-received across the globe.’’ Calling for a reunification among various parties, Mir urged separatists to join a single platform. The JKLF, a part of the Ittehadi Force, is working to forge unity among separatists divided over ideology.