Kashmir Meet: Doves Land In Nepal
13 December 2004
The Indian Express
Kathmandu: A Two-member delegation of Hurriyat conference headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq arrived in Kathmandu to attend a meeting of Kashmiri leaders from two sides of the Line of Control (LOC), being organised by Pugwash, a US-based think- tank. After initial hiccups at the Indira Gandhi airport over the issue of travel documents, both Mirwaiz and former Hurriyat Chairman Abdul Gani Bhat were allowed to travel to the Himalayan kingdom on the identity cards of their respective organisation to attend the two-day conference beginning tomorrow. This is the first time that Bhat, considered to be the brain behind the moderate faction of the Hurriyat conference, is attending a conference on Kashmir abroad. On their arrival, Bhat told PTI, 'We will be exploring possibility of capturing and making tomorrow brighter and clearer.' Bhat, who was flanked by Mirwaiz, said such conferences would help in evolving a consensus on Kashmir issue, which has been dogging relations between India and Pakistan for nearly six decades. 'We will choose to get some gems from the mountains of beautiful Nepal,' Bhat said, when asked whether he was optimistic about the outcome of the conference. Among others, attending the conference are vice-chancellor of Jammu University Amitabh Mattoo, Panther's Party chief Bhim Singh, former foreign secretaries M K Rasgotra and Muchkund Dubey, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarthy and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. Those attending the meeting from from Pakistan occupied Kashmir include former POK Prime minister Sultan Mahmud, Jammu and Kashmir Muslim conference President Atiq Ahmed and chairman JK Liberation League Majid Malik. The conference had come under cloud after Nepal had made it clear that it would not allow anyone to use its soil for anti-India propaganda and that separatist leaders needed to have proper identification to enter the kingdom. However, nepal gave a last minute permission to them to enter the country. Minister of state for Foreign Affairs Sharan Mahat said, 'We gave them permission because the countries concerned have shown no objection to the meeting.' The conference is being held with a view to improving communication between the two countries under Track II diplomacy. The meeting basically aims to develop contacts between India and Pakistan at the people's level, says Paolo Cotta- Ramusino, secretary general of Pugwash Conference, according to a report published from a local daily.