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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Centre okay with granting passport to Syed Geelani

Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 01, 2013
First Published: 00:37 IST(1/2/2013) | Last Updated: 02:16 IST(1/2/2013)

Even though the Centre is in no hurry to engage the Kashmir separatist Hurriyat Conference in a dialogue, it has no objection to issuance of passport to pro-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani for travelling to Islamabad or any other third country.

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Geelani had last applied for passport in 2011.

Top sources said despite Omar Abdullah government advocating that the Centre or Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in particular engage the Hurriyat, the UPA government is yet to firm up its view on the need to hold talks with Kashmir separatists, considering their weakening hold in the Valley.

Rather than holding talks the Hurriyat leaders, the Centre is now focusing on PDP leader Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s demand for elections to the block development councils.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/1/01_02_13-metro8.jpg

In this context, the Centre is open to the idea of Geelani travelling to Pakistan at his convenience. The pro-Pakistan leader blamed New Delhi for not issuing passport to him.

Geelani wanted to travel to Pakistan to mourn the death of Jamait-e-Islami leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed this month, but he apparently ignored the invitation from Pakistan foreign minister to travel with other Hurriyat leaders in December 2012.

It is understood that Pakistan high commissioner to India Salman Bashir went to the Malviya Nagar flat of Geelani last November to convince him after the visit dates were finalised by Islamabad.

At a time when self-appointed Kashmir interlocutors are pushing the UPA government to engage the Hurriyat, Kashmir watchers in the home ministry feel that it is a waste of time given that the separatists largely represent the view of Pakistan in Srinagar.

“If Geelani was so keen to travel to Pakistan to mourn Qazi Hussain Ahmed, he should have pressed hard for passport and it would have been issued,” a senior official said.

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