Pakistan invites Kashmiri separatists; Geelani declines
3 April 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi: Pakistan has invited Kashmiri separatist leaders for talks with its Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on the sidelines of the 14th SAARC summit here. However, the hardline faction of Hurriyat has turned down the offer.Other separatists invited by the Pakistan High Commission include leaders of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat, the Democratic Freedom Party and the pro-Independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. They are expected in Delhi on Wednesday. But the hardline Hurriyat faction, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, declined to come in protest against what it calls 'Pakistan's unwarranted flexible approach' vis-à-vis Kashmir.'The (invitation) offer has been turned down in protest as Pakistan has failed to wipe out our apprehensions about its Kashmir stance,' its spokesman Ayaz Akbar told IANS.He said Geelani had raised certain apprehensions before Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri during their last meeting in New Delhi in February. 'We wanted to know why Pakistan was continuously withdrawing from its position (over Kashmir),' he said, adding that Pakistan had failed to respond.Akbar said the Majlis-e-Shoura, the highest decision-making body of the hardline Hurriyat, in its meeting in Srinagar unanimously decided that nobody from the amalgam would meet Pakistan Prime Minister Aziz or Foreign Minister Kasuri this time. 'We also want to register our protest against the new proposals emerging from Pakistan aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue.'He said such formulae don't fall in line with the Hurriyat constitution and 'insult the sacrifices of Kashmiris'.Meanwhile, the Mirwaiz, who has been a supporter of the India-Pakistan peace process, said his Hurriyat faction would raise the issue of demilitarisation in both parts of Jammu and Kashmir.'I am quite hopeful of the meeting with the Pakistan prime minister and will raise Kashmir-related issues with him,' the Mirwaiz told IANS.A two-member Democratic Freedom Party delegation, led by chairman Shabir Ahmed Shah, is also expected for the meeting.Shah told IANS that he would seek the 'inclusiveness' of Kashmiris in the India- Pakistan peace process.