Kashmiri Separatists Going To Pakistan
25 May 2005
Srinagar: Moderate Kashmiri separatists will travel to Pakistan in a move that could boost efforts by India and Pakistan to end the decades-old Kashmir dispute, officials said Wednesday. Members of the hardline pro-Pakistan faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference said they were still considering a weekend invitation to separatist leaders from Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. A formal invitation was received by the two Hurriyat factions on Monday. More than 66,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in a Muslim- led insurgency in India's portion of Kashmir since 1989. The dozen or so rebel groups are either seeking Kashmir's independence or its merger with Pakistan. A cease-fire line divides Kashmir between the two nations since their independence from Britain in 1947. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of the Himalayan territory, which both claim it in its entirety. The moderate faction's general council met Wednesday and decided to apply to Indian authorities for travel documents, said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, its chairman. 'A high-powered Hurriyat delegation will meet all political parties, rebel groups and Kashmiris on the other side of the Line of Control, and the political leadership of Pakistan,' said Farooq. 'After we return, we will also resume dialogue with India,' Farooq told reporters in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian- controlled portion of Kashmir. While there has been no reaction so far from the Indian government, officials are expected to issue the necessary travel documents. In the past, India has kept Hurriyat officials from traveling to Pakistan by impounding their passports.