November 2006 News

Mirwaiz ready to facilitate dialogue with militants

20 November 2006
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: Some important announcements are expected vis-a-vis Kashmir in the next couple of months as back channel diplomacy between India and Pakistan is working on many issues very vigorously, said chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on Saturday. On his return from Cairo, where he attended an international conference on Kashmir, Mirwaiz told The Hindu that the next two months are important as far as peace process between India and Pakistan is concerned. 'Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee are visiting Pakistan and I think foundations for their fruitful visits have been laid during the Secretary-level talks,' he said. Quoting Pakistan President Gen. Parvez Musharraf, the Mr. Farooq said that for the first time in 58 years India and Pakistan had exchanged papers. Behind the scene they were working and some major headway vis-a-vis Kashmir was expected, he added. Referring to his discourse in Cairo in which PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and People's Conference leader Sajjad Lone also took part, the Mirwaiz said: 'At the international level this realisation is gaining momentum that peace is not possible in the world unless the issues like Kashmir and Palestine are resolved. These are to be accepted as political problems and solution is not military. He said that attending the conference was an opportunity to meet with the leaders from other side of Kashmir as well as India and Pakistan. And I think all were agreed that an amicable solution which is in accordance with sentiments of Kashmiris and also addresses the concerns of both India and Pakistan was necessary'. There was positive movement forward at the non-governmental level and 'we are committed to making it a credible process.' He said that now the international situation had changed and 'there is lot of awareness on Kashmir.' Till now the only viewpoint of India and Pakistan was taken into consideration now it is of Kashmiris as well. 'Efforts are on to have a CMP to get the issue resolved with India and Pakistan. And there is no solution except dialogue and we believe that as long as dialogue between India and Pakistan goes on it is beneficial for otherwise we the Kashmiris face the adversities in its absence.' On his meeting with leaders like Ms. Mehbooba and Sajjad Lone, he said there was no harm in meeting mainstream leaders. 'We hope to understand each other and it is good. Many people object to it that mainstream parties hijack the Hurriyat agenda . But I do not think so and there is change in their perception they think on our lines.' The Mirwaiz said that the Hurriyat was ready to resume dialogue with New Delhi. 'We want to talk to New Delhi also and Pakistan as well. But New Delhi has to move forward and when we met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last time he assured us that efforts to improve situation would be taken and we hope that it will be there.' He noted with confidence that there is a change in New Delhi till one time roundtable was seen as final thing and we had reservation. 'We told them you have to give preference to the pro-freedom people. We are always for dialogue if they sincerely want something it can move forward.' Talking about discussing proposals with both Islamabad and New Delhi, he said, 'These are akin to the 'United States of Kashmir' proposal mooted by us earlier. That is why we want to go to Pakistan and 'Azad Kashmir' and want that Mujahideen leadership should be taken into confidence. He said he was ready to facilitate involvement of militant leadership in talks. 'Yes, we are ready they [militants] are part of movement. And there is an impression that dialogue is out of the movement that is not the case it is very much part of it. It should not be seen as deviation it is an important part of process for finding a solution rather basic.' The Mirwaiz reiterated that human rights violations and dialogue could not go together. 'We have conveyed it to Delhi. They are also trying to minimise it and we hope that it will improve.' The Mirwaiz said that he did not agree on many points with the PDP. 'We do not agree on many issues: They talk about self governance within the ambit of Indian Constitution. We say that it has to be outside the Indian or Pakistani constitution and this is the fundamental difference but the quantum can be worked out. It is important that Islamabad, Delhi, Srinagar and Muzaffarabad relations have to be defined.' On Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammed Khan's efforts to unite separatists, he said: 'Pakistan may try many times that is good but until we have this feeling that we have to work in unity at this crucial stage nothing will help. Force cannot work. If someone rejects it, it is unfortunate but we are ready for unity.'


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