Hurriyat to boycott Singh’s conclave
22 May 2006
New Delhi: The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq decided on Monday not to participate in the second roundtable conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s opposition leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman said in Muzaffarnagar, near Delhi that talks were the only way to resolve the 60-year-old Kashmir dispute. The Hurriyat was asked to attend the second roundtable conference on Kashmir convened in Srinagar on May 24-25. Hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Gilani had recently termed the proposed meeting as an exercise in futility. Another senior leader Shabbir Shah expressed a similar view on Monday, setting the stage for a virtual boycott of the talks by all resistance groups. Kashmir’s pro-India National Conference, responding to speculation that Dr Singh may meet the Hurriyat and other resistance leaders separately, said the National Conference too would keep away from the roundtable if a separate meeting was envisaged with other leaders. Announcing the decision at a news conference, Mirwaiz Farooq said the amalgam has unanimously decided not to attend the round-table as it had no agenda. He also added that the Hurriyat Conference does not want to share table with “the crowd comprising of political hypocrites”. The decision was taken after a three-hour marathon meeting of the Hurriyat Executive Council, the highest decision-making body of the amalgam, the general council and the working committee at its Rajbagh headquarters in Srinagar. Even otherwise, the so-called moderate Hurriyat leaders were busy with the week-long programme to mark the death anniversaries of assassinated leaders Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq and Abdul Ghani Lone. The Hurriyat Conference had boycotted the first round-table on Kashmir held in New Delhi on Feb 25. However, a six-member Hurriyat delegation later met the prime minister in New Delhi on May 3. Rejecting the invitation for the Srinagar conference, Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party dismissed the conclave as an attempt to “buy time.” “We have decided to stay away from the conference,” the DFP chief Shabir Ahmad Shah said, adding this decision was taken during the executive committee meeting of the party. Party spokesman Mohammad Abdullah Tari said the leaders outrightly rejected the invitation received from the centre. Mr Shah alleged no measures had been taken by the Indian government to make the atmosphere conducive for such a conference. “The ground situation in Kashmir has not changed a bit as human rights violations continued,” he said. Leader of the opposition in Pakistan’s National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the Kashmir issue can be resolved only through continued dialogue between India and Pakistan.