June 2005 News

Hurriyat For Three Way Talks

3 June 2005
The Times of India

Muzaffarabad: Moderate Indian Kashmiri separatist leaders on Friday called for legislators in the Indian and Pakistani zones to draw up a joint plan to peacefully end the row over the divided Himalayan state. A nine-member delegation, including seven from the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), arrived on Thursday in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistan's sector, on the first such trip since they launched their campaign against Indian rule in Kashmir in 1989. 'We must come out with a joint strategy to reap the benefits of sacrifices offered by the Kashmiris to achieve peace in the region,' Bilal Gani Lone told a special sitting of the state assembly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. Lone, a member of the APHC - an umbrella group of some two dozen pro-independence parties - also called for the involvement of Kashmiris in the ongoing peace dialogue between Pakistan and India. The delegates were given a hero's welcome when they crossed the heavily militarised Line of Control on Thursday near the town of Chakothi, 58 kilometres (36- mile) south of Muzaffarabad. Their trip is part of a peace process between India and Pakistan to end the bitter dispute over Kashmir, a nuclear flashpoint which has sparked two of the three wars between rivals India and Pakistan since 1947. Lone said Kashmiris must rise above their political differences to achieve a durable solution to the Kashmir dispute. On Thursday the Kashmiri leaders called for a three-way talks between Pakistan, India and Kashmiris. Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq paid a nostalgic visit on Friday to the grave of his grandfather in Muzaffarabad, where some 500 people had gathered to greet the group. 'We have come here to hold consultation with people from all shades of life,' Farooq told the gathering. 'We are here to reinforce the message that without the participation of Kashmiri leadership there can never be a solution to the problem. The Kashmiris should talk to each other also.' Most of the people gathered at the graveyard were members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, a staunch supporter of Kashmir's independence from both India and Pakistan. The Hurriyat leaders are also expected to travel to Islamabad on Saturday for talks with Pakistani leadership. India gave the green light to the unprecedented trip after Pakistan last week invited leaders of the body as well as other prominent leaders seeking Kashmir's merger with Pakistan or independence. However, hardliners declined the invitation. They are angry over what they see as Pakistan offering too many concessions to India over Kashmir without anything in return from New Delhi. On April 7 India and Pakistan launched a historic bus service linking the divided region, the first in nearly 60 years and one of the most visible benefits from the peace process. But near daily violence continues to plague the region. Suspected Muslim rebels Friday gunned down a municipal councillor in the latest in a string of political killings in Srinagar, main city of Indian Kashmir, where a deadly 15-year insurrection continues to rage.


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