Former PoK ‘PM’ arrives in Kashmir today17 September 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Former ‘Prime Minister’ of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) Sultan Mehmood Choudhry will reach Srinagar tomorrow to attend a marriage. Mr Choudhary, a prominent leader of Pakistan’s ruling party (Pakistan People’s Party) reached New Delhi from Lahore this afternoon. This is the first visit of a prominent PoK leader to the Kashmir valley, albeit in his personal capacity, after a long time. Though Mr Choudhary is going to attend marriage of the son of his close friend and businessman Zahoor Ahmed Shah Watali, the possibility of his meetings with some Kashmiri leaders is not ruled out as he is considered to be a part of Track-II diplomacy. Though the schedule of Mr Choudhary in the Kashmir valley was not available, the Government sources said he would be in the Valley from September 18 to 21. The Interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir-Dileep Padgaonkar, Prof Radha Kumar and MM Ansari-would also be in Kashmir till September 21 before returning to New Delhi. Initially, there were reports that Mr Choudhary could travel to Kashmir in weekly Muzaffarabad-Uri bus service. Later, a word went that he would cross through Lahore-Wagah border and reach Amritsar on way to Srinagar. However, he preferred a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight and reached New Delhi this evening from Lahore. The PoK leader, who had headed the PPP led Government from 1996 onwards and had continuously been elected to the PoK Assembly during 1985-2006, would spend the night in New Delhi and board a flight to Srinagar tomorrow to attend the marriage of Watali’s son. Mr Choudhary, who had also been the Leader of Opposition in PoK Assembly, was issued a visa by the Indian High Commission to visit Srinagar to attend the wedding of Watali’s son, sources said, adding that Watali had also invited other political leaders from PoK including Muslim Conference chief Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan. However, there were no reports so far about the visit of Attique Khan to Kashmir. This is the first time that such a senior leader from PoK is visiting the Indian side and the visit will provide an opportunity for interactions and exchange of ideas, sources said.