Hurriyat-A Seeks EU Support For Separatists' Visit To Islamabad
28 September 2004
The Times of India
Srinagar: Hurriyat Conference (A) today said they want to hold talks with both New Delhi and Islamabad and solicit the support of European Union (EU) to facilitate the visit of separatists to Pakistan for parleys. Emerging after the meeting with visiting five member EU delegation, former Hurriyat (A) chairman and its chief spokesman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat said they are not averse to talks and want to hold parleys with both India and Pakistan. Hurriyat (A) leaders had a 90-minute meeting with the EU team comprising Eric F.Ch. Niche, ambassador of Netherlands, Paul Steinmestz, ambassador of Luxembourg, Franciso Da Camara Gomes, Rob Macaire, political counselor British High commission and Erik De Feijter first secretary of Netherlands. The EU team arrived here today and during their stay in the valley they are likely to meet various separatist and mainstream leaders besides captions of trade, commerce and industry. After the meeting with Hurriyat leaders, the EU delegations did not address the press, however, Prof Bhat gave a detailed briefing about the meeting with EU to the media. 'We have told them that we are ready to hold talks not only with India but with Pakistan too. We want to go to Pakistan and in this regard we solicited the support of EU. Besides we told them that there is visible change in the attitude of both the countries and the leaders of the two nations are showing flexibility and avoiding rigidity which is a good sign', he said. Prof Bhat also noted that they have discussed human rights issue and Srinagar- Muzaffarabad road with the EU delegation. 'We gave them detailed briefing about the human rights aspect in the state and told them to verify it from the human rights groups operating in the valley', he said. The Hurriyat spokesman noted that the EU team took up the issue of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road with them. 'We told the EU that we have no objection if Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road is reopened on humanitarian grounds. We want that people particularly the divided families should reunite because they have suffered a lot. We feel that the reopening of the road can help to build trust. However this road should not be politicized. And we have told the EU about the politicization of this road', he said. Prof Bhat added that there should be no passport system for the Kashmiris who intend to visit their kins. 'The passport system and the visa regime should be done away with for the people of Kashmir who intend to visit the two parts of Kashmir', he said. Earlier the EU delegation was received by former Hurriyat (A) chairmen Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, Molvi Mohommad Abbaas Ansari, senior executive member Bilal Gani Lone and Awami Action Committee leaders Mohammed Yaqoob Vakil, Nazir A Ronga and Shahid-ul-Islam. Later they held in-camera meeting with the EU for about 90 minutes.