Mirwaiz Slams Patil, PDP Says PM Words Have More Weight
10 November 2004
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Calling his remarks 'negative' and 'unacceptable,' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who leads the moderate camp of the Hurriyat Conference, today criticised Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and said that the situation in the Valley has worsened because of the confusion at the Centre. 'The Home Minister said that talks with the Government will be unconditional and constitutional,' the Mirwaiz said, 'What he said here means that there can't be any dialogue. This is not acceptable to us. Home Minister's contradictory statements have created more confusion and now nobody knows what is the real policy of the Government of India on Kashmir.' The Mirwaiz said that the dialogue process began with the former NDA government after there was mutual agreement on three main issues: talks will be unconditional, they will be 'Kashmir-centric,' and that the Hurriyat leaders would be allowed to go to Pakistan to talk to the leadership there as well. 'We think our demand to go to Pakistan is actually part of the peace process we started with Government of India. We are not going there for a picnic. We want to talk to the leadership there as well becuase that will help to move forward to resolve this issue.' Patil's statement that the Hurriyat is not talking under pressure from Pakistan is 'irresponsible.' the Mirwaiz said. 'The fact is I met President Musharraf recently and he was extremely positive about our dialogue with New Delhi and wanted us to talk to everybody. There is no question of any pressure on us.' 'When they (Centre) are talking to Pakistan, why not we as well? I think he (Patil) doesn't know what he says because there has been a lot of contradiction. The Home Minister says that normalcy has almost returned to Kashmir. The truth is that the situation has worsened here since this government (UPA) took over. There is confusion about their policy on dialogue.' For Mehbooba Mufti, chief of the ruling People's Democratic Party, Congress president Sonia Gandhi would help the peace process move forward despite these 'ups and downs.' 'The contradictory statements have created some confusion but he is Home Minister, he must have some reason. We think the Centre's dialogue with Pakistan and talks with all separatists are essential. We believe that if the travel of Hurriyat leaders to Pakistan will help in moving this process forward, they must be allowed to go. There is no harm in it.' On the political messages being sent out from New Delhi, she singled out Sonia for praise. 'She is committed to the peace process. She is the most credible voice in the Congress so I hope this process will continue despite these ups and downs. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, too, has always said that the government is ready for an unconditional dialogue on Kashmir.' Mehbooba said the PM's visit would help control the damage. 'His words have much more weight than anyone else's,' she said. 'And his visit will put an end to all the confusion. There is anger in Kashmir because of recent developments like the rape in Handwara but his words will help to heal this wound.' PM is clear, I know he is serious: Mufti PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti: Contradictory statements have created some confusion but he is Home Minister, he must have some reason. PM's words have much more weight. Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed: The PM is clear about an unconditional dialogue. I know he is serious. NC chief Omar Abdullah: Hurriyat is under Pak pressure, if you rub this in, it puts them in more trouble. CPM's Tarigami: Home Minister needs to be a little more careful. Agreed Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed: 'There are ups and downs but I think one or two statements will not do much harm to it. The Prime Minister is clear about an unconditional dialogue. And I know he is serious.' 'We will be fools to deny that Hurriyat is not under Pakistan pressure,' said National Conference chief Omar Abdullah. 'It is not just political pressure, they have serious security concerns as well. But if you rub this in and say they are not talking to us because they are under pressure from Pakistan, it puts them in even more trouble.' At the state, too, there was confusion, he said. 'The CM says we should talk to Hurriyat while his Deputy Chief Minister (Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma) says no need because Hurriyat are of no consequence. There is no uniform position especially since the Home Minister's visit. An element of confusion was added by his (Home minister) statements here.' Alliance partner CMP's J&K general secretary M Y Tarigami also suggested caution on New Delhi's part. 'Such confusing signals do not help. Any serious dialogue has to be unconditional. Home minister needs to be a little more careful. They (Centre) have to put their house in order.'