April 2005 News

Musharraf's new-found love for 'puppet' Kashmiri leaders

23 April 2005
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: The outcome of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's recently concluded 'quick tour' has baffled many. But, the most surprising part was President Musharraf's characterisation of Mehbooba Mufti, Mirwaiz Maulvi Omar Farooq and Omar Abdullah as the future leaders of Jammu and Kashmir.He said so during his discussions here early this week with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who could not react at that moment, sources said. Sources said that the surprise was so unexpected that it left Dr Singh fumbling for words. And finally, he did not respond. Dr Singh had no prior briefing of this 'change of heart' of the Pakistani president.Except for the late Sheikh Abdullah, Pakistan has never officially given legitimacy to any pro- Indian Kashmiri leader. The Pakistani media has been calling them puppet leaders.Musharraf more or less repeated the same, though not in so many words, at his breakfast meeting with the Indian editors on Monday. He told them that the elected leaders of Jammu and Kashmir did represent a section of people.Observers believe that Musharraf's stance has opened the scope for the resolution of Kashmir issue as it has signalled that he was ready for a compromise solutionAnother surprise of this mini-summit was Musharraf's televised criticism of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in a briefing for the Pakistani media just before leaving Delhi. He showed his impatience with the Hurriyat leaders, asking them to use their 'brains' and join the dialogue. The story of how and why Musharraf met the Hurriyat leaders during his Delhi visit came out during the televised briefing. It appears that the Indian government asked him to use his influence on the divided Hurriyat to bring its leaders to the negotiating table. 'I bluntly said why I should tell them to meet (Indians). I too want to meet (them). If I am not allowed to meet them, why should I tell them to meet (Indians)? They agreed. So the meeting took place,' Musharraf pointed out.


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