March 2006 News

Geelani denied passport to visit Pakistan

8 March 2006
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: Hardliner Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Geelani will be notable among the absentees from among the pro-freedom groups while JKLF leader Yasin Malik, who had boycotted the Nepal roundtable of Pugwash, has chosen to attend. Geelani said he had applied for the travel papers to travel to Islamabad, but was denied. Ironically, just few months ago, he was permitted to proceed to perform Haj and Ghulam Nabi Azad took credit as liberal policy of his government. National Conference President Omar Abdullah, Communist Party of India (M) leader Mohamamd Yusuf Tarigami and many pro-India leaders of Jammu and Kashmir will be rubbing shoulders for the first time with pro-freedom and militant leaders from the two sides of the Line of Control (LoC) in Islamabad later this week in search of a solution of the Kashmir problem. The opportunity for what may turn out to be the first-ever get-together of the leaders of all shades in Pakistan has been provided by Pugwash, an European think-tank that had organised a similar roundtable in Kathmandu in 2004. Pakistan has never recognised the “elected” leaders of Jammu and Kashmir as the representatives of people but it has not only facilitated visas to all wanting to attend the Islamabad roundtable but has also fixed an appointment sought by Omar Abdullah with President Pervez Musharraf. Omar, a former minister of state for external affairs, said he wants to present to Musharraf a copy of the autonomy resolution passed by the State Assembly during his party’s rule and discuss how the Kashmir issue can be resolved fast. The three-day closed-door roundtable that begins in Islamabad from Friday will have nobody from the ruling Congress party but in attendance will be representatives from its coalition partner People’s Democratic Party, People’s Democratic Front (PDF), CPI (M) and Panther’s Party.


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