Kashmir's JKLF To Visit Pakistan
26 May 2005
Islamabad: A Kashmiri separatist group campaigning for independence has accepted an invitation to visit Pakistan. The chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Yasin Malik, says they will also visit Pakistan-administered Kashmir. On Wednesday, a moderate faction of Kashmiri separatists said it had accepted an invitation from Pakistan's president to visit the country. It is the first they are travelling to Pakistan as a representative group. Some separatist leaders have travelled to Pakistan individually but it is the first time India has permitted the separatist groups to visit the country in an official capacity. QUICK GUIDE Kashmir dispute JKLF leader Yasin Malik said he will lead a 17-member delegation if the names are cleared by both India and Pakistan. But he said their meeting with the Pakistani government will not mean they are holding a dialogue to resolve the Kashmir dispute. He said the two groups will try and find a way of involving the Kashmiri people in the process. The JKLF was the first group to take up arms against India in the late 1980s but now is seeking independence through political means. Peace talks On Wednesday, moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the visit marked the beginning of a 'triangular dialogue' between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris. A hardline separatist faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani is yet to respond to the invitation. India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir since independence in 1947. But for the past 18 months they have been engaged in a peace process. Pakistan's President, Pervez Musharraf, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged to work to resolve their differences in talks held last month. The separatists will travel next week on a recently launched bus cross- Kashmir bus service linking the two sides of the disputed territory. Fresh violence Separately, at least four people including two soldiers and two militants have been killed in a clash in the Doda district of Indian-administered Kashmir, official say. An Indian army spokesman said the exchange took place when soldiers on patrol came under attack from suspected militants late on Wednesday. He said that two soldiers were killed in the attack after which army reinforcements cordoned off the area. In the gun battle that followed, two militants are said to have been killed.