September 2004 News

Singh orders roadmap to include Kashmiris in talks

22 September 2004
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: The Indian prime minister's decision to partially shift the Kashmir file from the home minister's office to his internal security advisor might give impetus to Indian efforts to negotiate peace directly with Kashmiris, sources said on Wednesday. Highly placed sources told Daily Times that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked Internal Security Advisor MK Narayanan to 'work out a roadmap for peace in Jammu and Kashmir' just before he left for New York where he would meet US President George Bush and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. However, sources said that Home Minister Shivraj Patil had not yet been asked to hand down the file. 'He will continue with his role in the talks on Kashmir and he is still required to keep the PM posted with developments and proposals on Kashmir,' sources added. 'The roadmap is a strategy paper aimed at mainstreaming Kashmiris vis--vis the peace process.' The prime minister has also asked his National Security Advisor JN Dixit to coordinate with the home and the external affairs ministries to speed up work on the Kashmir file.Sources said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had told the prime minister that his assertion to talk to everyone in Jammu and Kashmir was not enough and what was needed was a firm policy that assured that the new government had not scuttled the peace initiative started by its predecessors.Following Ms Gandhi's advice, sources added, Dr Singh had planned a two-day trip to Jammu and Kashmir before going abroad. 'But he had to postpone it when told that he could not make any announcements in view of the four upcoming state by-elections.' Sources said that Sonia Gandhi might herself go to Srinagar soon to fill in the gap.Sources said that there would be no surprise if the duo of JN Dixit and MK Narayanan dislodged former home and defence secretary NN Vohra from the position of New Delhi's interlocutor on Jammu and Kashmir. It is believed that Mr Dixit wants to start negotiating with the Hurriyat leadership directly and prepare grounds for the PM's meeting with the Hurriyat leaders at the earliest. Mr Vohra is sick these days. This would also meet the Hurriyat's demand to negotiate at the highest level in Delhi. 'They want to talk to someone who can take decisions and implement them,' sources said.


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