November 2018 News

Former Norway PM Makes Surprise Visit To Separatist Hurriyat Leaders

25 November 2018
Financial Express


Srinagar: Former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevik paid a surprise visit to the top separatist leaders of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, The Indian Express reported. Bondevik met top Hurriyat leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani at Geelani's residence in Hyderpora. The meeting was also facilitated by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living. The visit came days after India and Pakistan decided to open up the Kartarpur corridor for the Sikh pilgrims. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Indian Express that they received a call from him, only a day before. He said, 'This is the first time we are meeting foreign dignitaries, in years. So far, New Delhi never allowed such visits before, and as of recently, foreign diplomats are also reluctant to meet us.' 'A representative of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living had accompanied the PM, and it is clear that the visit was only possible after a go-ahead from the Indian government itself,' he added. Bondevik told the Hurriyat leaders that the main purpose of his visit was to access the ground scenario in Kashmir and listen to their viewpoints. 'We don't know yet what will be the outcome of this visit, but we hope this will lead to a meaningful discussion between the two countries,' Farooq said, mentioning the opening of Kartarpur corridor as a positive effect. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also mentioned how the relationship between India and Pakistan have hit a wall, and the two need outside help to bring it back on track. Bondevik reportedly will also hold talks with officials in Delhi, and then head to Pakistan where he will visit Azad Kashmir. Welcoming Bondevik's initiative, Mirwaiz told Indian Express that the former Nerwign PM told them, how the two countries need assistance with this issue as there is no positive development in the last four or five years. The Hurriyat leaders also reportedly told Bondevik, 'the dispute needs to be resolved peacefully, and the violence has to stop.' 'If only India and Pakistan are willing to resolve the dispute on Kashmir along with the people living here, then only we can help,' he said. A senior police official told Indian Express, that they had clear directions to allow the Bondevik's visit, who has also met a few pro-government activists and the members of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bar Association at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre.

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