Srinagar Roundtable - Rights, Development On Talks Menu
19 May 2006
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: The stage is set for the second Round Table Conference on Kashmir in Srinagar on Wednesday. Continuing through Thursday, the conclave has on its agenda economic development of J&K, human rights' violation, cross border linkages across the LoC and a long-term solution to the Kashmir problem. Though the Centre is hopeful the moderate J&K Hurriyat Conference's would join in, the sepa ratist amalgam has reportedly told officials their general body meeting would decide on the issue by Monday. Significantly, in their second meeting with the PM in Delhi on May 3, the Hurriyat had asked for opening up of the LoC for more people-to-people contacts and inter-border trade across the divide. The separatists had also expressed their preference for a specific Round Table agenda without being part of the crowd that did not question Kashmir's accession to India. Invitations are reported to have gone to many separatist leaders like Yasin Malik of the JKLF, Shabir Shah of the JK Democratic Freedom Party and Peoples Conference leader Sajjad Lone. Confirmations are yet to come. PMO sources said as against the first Round Table held in Delhi on February 25, the Srinagar discussions would be more focussed and lead to setting up of sub-groups to take a close look at the conclusions reached. Besides, the representation of political parties, ethnic groups, NGOs and other stakeholders will ensure result-oriented discussions. Since all concerned parties have articulated their views at the Delhi conference, in Srinagar, the deliberations will be in tandem with a set agenda. Discussions on two major suggestions - the National Conference's demand for J & K autonomy and the ruling PDP's self-rule formulation - will be carried forward in specifics. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reaches Srinagar on Wednesday morning and will leave for Delhi on May 26. On agenda: Economic development, human rights' violation in the valley, cross border linkages across the LoC and a long-term solution to the Kashmir problem. Unlike the first Round Table in Delhi on February 25, the discussions will be more focused.