Manmohan carries Kashmir brief for Musharraf
14 September 2006
New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be carrying the support, and some key suggestions, of Kashmiri leaders when he meets President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Havana on Friday, informed sources said on Thursday. They said some of the proposals from Kashmiri leaders he would be carrying, both from the pro-India stable and the anti-Delhi resistance, include mechanisms for an institutional framework to bring both sides of Kashmir together without loss of their respective sovereignty in the disputed region. Coincidentally, Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Omar Farooq and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad have backed a proposal to declare an internal ceasefire in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir beginning with Ramazan. Both will be in neighbouring New York when the summit talks are held, albeit with their diverse public agenda. The Mirwaiz has been invited to attend the OIC meeting on Kashmir and Mr Azad is presumably visiting there as part of the Indian contingent to the UN General Assembly. The issue of institutional mechanisms for a proposed joint management of Kashmir was broached by Dr. Singh and accepted in an interview to an Indian magazine by Gen. Musharraf. The idea of a ceasefire within the Indian-controlled regions of Kashmir initially for a limited period of Ramazan, was moved by Mr. Azad and endorsed by the Mirwaiz. This could form the basis of the human rights concerns in the region that both sides are likely to discuss in Havana, the sources said. A more detailed exploration of the larger idea of joint management could be given shape by the time Dr. Singh is ready to visit Pakistan. For that he would have to wait at least till the new high commissioner is appointed after the current one, Mr. Shiv Shankar Menon, takes over as foreign secretary next month. In Srinagar, the opposition National Conference (NC) on Thursday said it was optimistic that the proposed talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pervez Musharraf in Havana would prove beneficial for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. “We hope that the proposed meeting between the two leaders will prove fruitful for the resolution of the Kashmir issue as per the wishes of the people of the state”, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Abdul Rahim told a private news channel in Srinagar. He said Dr. Singh was making sincere efforts to restart the stalled bilateral talks after the Mumbai blasts. Due to the determination of the two leaders the Indo-Pakistan peace talks would not only resume but also gather momentum, the NC leader said. Referring to Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad’s statement on ceasefire if terrorists shun violence, Mr. Rahim said enforcing ceasefire is a good thing but it should be accompanied by steps to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir tangle. Dr. Singh has uncharacteristically chosen to ignore criticism of the talks by the rightwing Bharatiya Janata part. The BJP on Wednesday came down heavily on the prime minister for describing Pakistan as “a victim of terrorism”. It asserted that his remarks went against the stand taken so far by India on Islamabad’s role in nurturing and “exporting jihadi terror”. “The prime minister’s comment is most disturbing and untimely,” BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said. “Engagement with Pakistan has always floundered in the past with the latter’s refusal to acknowledge its support to terrorism from within its territory,” he added. Left leaders have made an opposite pitch. The CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and his CPI counterpart A B Bardhan are understood to have told the prime minister that he should prepare the ground for resuming the Indo- Pakistan composite dialogue process that was stalled in the aftermath of the July Mumbai serial blasts. The CPM and CPI top leaders decided to convey to the prime minister that the Indo- Pakistan composite dialogue process should not be held hostage to incidents like the Mumbai blasts. Soon after the Left parties’ meeting Mr Karat is understood to have sought an appointment with the prime minister to convey their decision.