US In Touch With Hurriyat On Kashmir Issue

17 November 2009
The Hindustan Times
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: The US might be denying direct mediation in Kashmir, but it has opened diplomatic channels with the All Party Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to resolve the issue. “The US is eager to resolve the issue once and for all. They are again showing interest in Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz told HT. Top US State Department officials got in touch with him when he was in New York in September for a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Countries, a fact confirmed by the Mirwaiz. The officials work in association with Richard Holbrooke, the US’s special representative to Afghanistan-Pakistan. The Mirwaiz, accompanied by senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Bhatt, is understood to have already held two rounds of talks with Home Minister P. Chidambaram, as part of the home ministry’s “quiet diplomacy” initiative. Without naming anyone, the Hurriyat chief said the seriousness on part of the US could be gauged from the fact that it had identified individuals to study the issue within “new global realities”. The Obama administration is under pressure from Pakistan to deliver on Kashmir to see a progress on the Afghan front. It has linked Afghanistan success to peace in Kashmir, something that India completely disagrees with. It’s learnt that the Obama administration has asked renowned security expert Stephen Cohen to study the Kashmir issue. He has already presented a paper on the conflict and the peace process. In the past, India had objected to the US decision to appoint a former president, Bill Clinton, as point man on Kashmir. It’s widely held in the US and Pakistan that to contain extremist forces and Taliban in the areas along Afghanistan, the US is keen to resolve the Kashmir issue.