December 2016 News

Hurriyat Ready For Talks: Sinha

15 December 2016
Rising Kashmir
Faisul Yaseen

Srinagar: Former external affairs minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Yashwant Sinha Thursday said the unified Hurriyat leadership was ready for entering into dialogue with New Delhi. In an exclusive interview to Rising Kashmir, Sinha said, 'Hurriyat by and large is ready for dialogue.' He said a large majority within the Hurriyat stands for engaging in parleys with New Delhi. Sinha, who was part of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet that made progress on the resolution of Kashmir issue by entering into dialogue both with the Hurriyat leadership led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and with Islamabad during the rule of President Parvez Musharaff, called upon New Delhi to respond by announcing start of a formal dialogue process with the Hurriyat leadership. Stressing that neither Hurriyat nor New Delhi should set any preconditions to talks, Sinha, who also served as a finance minister between 1990 and 1991 under Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar and then again between March 1998 and July 2002 under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said New Delhi and Hurriyat should be ready to enter into an 'unconditional dialogue'. Hurriyat had often set a precondition for New Delhi to first accept Kashmir as a dispute for it to venture into dialogue with Government of India while New Delhi on its part has stating that talks would the Hurriyat could only be held within the constitution of India. Sinha, who contributed to developing better Indo-French relationship, in recognition of which he was conferred the France's highest civilian honor, 'Legion of Honor' said, 'We have to persuade both the sides to move forward and enter into unconditional talks.' He said the group he was leading went back from Srinagar convinced that dialogue between New Delhi and Hurriyat should be started at the earliest. 'Everyone should play their role in initiating talks,' Sinha said. The Sinha-led panel comprising former Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, former Air Chief Marshall, Kapil Kak, veteran journalist, Bharat Bushan and Programme Director of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) Sushobha Barve visited Kashmir twice during the ongoing uprising in which more than 90 civilians were killed at the hands of Police, Army and paramilitary forces. After their first visit to Kashmir in October, they had even released a report saying Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq 'talked of being prepared for an unconditional dialogue' but said that it was not within the competence of the group of citizens to suggest 'when or if such a dialogue process should be started'. Sinha said things had improved in Kashmir and things were far more normal now and that New Delhi should now take advantage of it by responding with announcing initiation of talks. 'I believe the best time to repair the roof is when there is sunshine and the sun is out now,' he said referring to the extending of relaxation in the weekly shutdown calendar given by the unified Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik. 'I'm trying my best for initiating talks,' the former external affairs minister said. The veteran BJP leader said he had come to Kashmir with an impression that some people in the Valley were angry, some disappointed and some saw no hope. 'However, others, who are more in number, are disappointed but still believe in hope and that something can be done,' he said. Sinha said he had found that most people were for dialogue and that they all welcomed dialogue though a fringe felt there was no point engaging with New Delhi. However, the BJP leader was critical of Islamabad. 'I have clearly said Pakistan has not kept its commitment and that terror and talks can't go together,' he said. Earlier, in their report, the group had said the Hurriyat leaders think that unless New Delhi and Islamabad talk there could be no permanent solution to the Kashmir issue. 'While most of them recommend tripartite talks on Kashmir between India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri leadership, others are willing for some other form of dialogue between the three as in Vajpayee's time,' it said. 'They called it 'triangular dialogue' - presumably one in which India and Pakistan talk to each other and each of them then talks to the Kashmiris also.' The report had said that there was a widespread belief that without engaging Islamabad there could be no resolution to Kashmir issue.