'Mirwaiz to visit Pakistan again next month'
28 January 2006
The Daily Times
New Delhi: All Parties Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq will travel to Pakistan again next month to consult leaders there for a fresh strategy, sources told Daily Times on Saturday. Sources say that Mirwaiz will undertake his third Pakistan visit around February 14. Meanwhile, leader of the Hurriyat’s hardline faction, Syed Ali Geelani, has extended his visit to Mecca by a fortnight. He will now return here sometime around February 10. Observers here believe that the exercise could also be part of a patch-up between the two warring factions. Pakistan is desperate to project a united Kashmiri face supporting President Pervez Musharraf’s proposals of demilitrisation and self rule. Both proposals have been rejected by the hardline factions as well as New Delhi. Sources close to Mirwaiz said his January visit was focused on providing relief and expressing solidarity with earthquake victims. “He did not undertake any political activity. There are some serious issues that need to be discussed with the Pakistani leadership,” the sources said. Soon after Mirwaiz’s return, his group will be called for a second round of negotiations by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The Indian government is right now warming up to Kashmiri Hindu leaders, who will be called for consultations early next month. A Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) official said, that after pandits, Singh is slated to meet other leaders like Shabbir Ahmed Shah and will round off discussions with Mohammad Yasin Malik before starting a second round with the APHC. Singh met People’s Conference Chairman Sajjad Lone on January 14 and agreed with him to institutionalise and the dialogue process and make it more broad-based. The PMO official said that various pandit groups including two factions of Panun Kashmir had asked for an appointment with Singh and he has accepted their request to hear their views and problems they have been facing for the 15 years since their migration. Pandit groups active in Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir have been asked to choose five to six people jointly who will attend the meeting with the prime minister.