August 2006 News

Farooq favours dialogue with Hizb

22 August 2006
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah has advocated a dialogue over the Kashmir issue with the largest indigenous armed outfit, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, led by Syed Salahuddin at a neutral venue other than India and Pakistan. In an interview with a Jammu-based news channel, Dr. Abdullah said both India and Pakistan need to strengthen their bilateral relations and New Delhi should hold talks with Hizb at a neutral venue, maintaining the highest degree of confidentiality. 'The talks should be held in complete secrecy and in a country other than India and Pakistan,' he told Take-1 TV channel. Dr. Abdullah had been witness to the parleys held at Nehru Guest House in Srinagar with the Hizb leadership by the Union Home Ministry on August 3, 2000. The talks had failed to achieve any breakthrough. He maintained that earlier talks with Hizb failed to bring results because of 'unnecessary hype and publicity attached to these'. 'The Hizb leadership should be invited for talks in a third country where top secrecy should be maintained. No one should know about these talks till some outcome is achieved,' he said, adding that it was feasible not to repeat mistakes committed earlier. He urged both India and Pakistan to translate their words of commitment to peace and stability in the region into reality. He voiced concern over the issue of human rights in the restive region. 'People had heaved a sigh of relief after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement of zero tolerance on May 25 but on the ground the situation is unhealthy and alarming,' he said. Meanwhile, close on the heels of a 'home-coming' call to Kashmiri Hindus by frontline armed organisation Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, another armed outfit, Tehreek- ul-Mujahideen, has seconded the Hizb call. Terming the Hizb appeal as timely and apt, the chief spokesperson of Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, identifying himself as Sheikh Burhan-ud-Din, told local news agencies that the Pandits are part and parcel of Kashmiri society and they should return to Kashmir - their homeland. 'We welcome the homecoming appeal to Kashmiri Pandits by Hizb and consider it right and timely,' the spokesperson said.


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