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Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times
Srinagar, November 06, 2013
As BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's election campaign picks up pace, moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Wednesday said he was ready to engage New Delhi if the footsteps of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's are followed. "We are ready to cooperate with the government of India if it follows Vajpayee's 'insaniyat policy'. Let India follow Vajpayee's initiative on Kashmir, the Hurriyat is ready to cooperate with it,"said the Mirwaiz on the sidelines of a seminar in Srinagar organised on the '1947 Jammu martyrs'.

The Mirwaiz was referring to the speech made by Vajpayee as the prime minister in Srinagar during his tenure. Vajpayee had said a solution to Kashmir problem is possible "insaniyat ke daayrey mein (within the circle of humanity)".

The Mirwaiz's statement assumes significance in case BJP comes to power at the Centre. It seems the moderate separatist leader's statement is an attempt to keep the window of talks open to any BJP-led dispensation in the future.

In June this year, Modi also invoked Vajpayee in his speech to reach out to people of Kashmir saying "to heal the wounds of Kashmir, we should start from where Vajpayee had left".
The BJP PM candidate is likely to visit Jammu and Kashmir next month.

The moderates, however, have decided again not to lend any credence to the upcoming parliamentary and assembly elections in the state.

"Election is a non-issue for us. Our focus is on the resolution of Kashmir issue. We don't believe elections can be a substitute to Kashmir solution,"said the Mirwaiz. "Kashmir is not an administrative issue and any 'change of guard' have no role to play,"he added.

The Mirwaiz, however, stopped short of calling for a boycott of polls. "It is premature to comment on the election boycott. Hurriyat will sit and decide on the issue once election dates and schedules are declared,"he said.

The Mirwaiz, also the head priest of the valley, asked both India and Pakistan to create a congenial atmosphere "to resolve the long-pending Kashmir issue."

"Issues cannot be settled through wars now. If India and Pakistan are serious to resolve the dispute, the Hurriyat is ready to extend its full contribution,"the Mirwaiz said.