April 2007 News

Pakistan advises Hurriyat to forge unity

4 April 2007
Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi: Pakistan Wednesday reiterated its advice to Kashmiri separatist leaders to forge unity within their divided camp and come up with ideas for resolving the Kashmir issue.Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, here to attend the 14th SAARC Summit, met a five-member delegation of the moderate faction of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and a two-member delegation of the Democratic Freedom Party led by its chief Shabir Shah at the Pakistan House here in the evening.Aziz urged the Kashmiri leaders to iron out their difference and unite under one banner, according to sources close to the Mirwaiz.The Mirwaiz said that the issue of unity did figure in the talks. 'Unity is important within the separatist camp because we want the joint Kashmiri voice to be heard,' the Mirwaiz told IANS.He added that the Hurriyat is not averse to rub its shoulders with like-minded forces. However, he ruled out the possibility of joining hands with 'the people having a totally different view on the Kashmir issue'.He was referring to ailing Syed Ali Shah Geelani, head of the hardliner faction of Hurriyat who has been opposed to the India-Pakistan peace process.Geelani, in fact, has refused to meet any Pakistani leader till his 'apprehensions about Pakistan Kashmir policy are cleared'.The Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat welcomes SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) proposals for peace and stability in the region, adding: 'Without addressing the Kashmir issue, peace and stability in the region will be a distant dream.'The issue of demilitarisation in both Kashmirs also figured in the delegations' parleys with Aziz.Shabir Shah said he asked Pakistan to give a greater role to Kashmiris in the peace process.'Past experiences tell us all bilateral talks have failed and it was time for Kashmiris to be included,' he told Aziz.It was Kashmiri separatist leaders' second meeting with the Pakistani leadership since Feb 21, when they met Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmoud Kasuri here.


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