Two key players from Jammu and Kashmir — Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad, both ministers in the Union Cabinet — said on Tuesday that Kashmiris had a lot of aspirations from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will tour the state for two days starting on Wednesday.
Singh will open a train service between Anantnag and Qazigund, connecting Kashmir to the rest of the country and is expected to make a significant gesture on the dialogue his government has promised to the state.
Health minister Azad said Singh had made it clear at the ASEAN Summit that the government was willing to talk to all groups to kick-start constructive dialogue. He said the government was willing to talk to some groups outside the mainstream. “The Hurriyat leaders were supposed to come back with a specific roadmap. However, they have not.”
Abdullah, the minister for new and renewable energy, said, “The UPA government is committed to dialogue. Negotiations are the way forward,” he said.
The ministers were speaking at an anti-terror conference organised by the Jama Masjid United Forum on Tuesday.
‘Kashmiris want peace’
Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said Kashmiris were asking for a “just peace”, in a move that reflects an urge of a silent majority of Kashmiris .
“Kashmiris demand a just peace,” he told Royal United Services Institute, London, during a conference on Prospects of Peace in Kashmir.
“It is achievable,” he said, “if all parties exhibit flexibility,” implying that both India and Pakistan would have to shift from their traditional standpoints.
(with inputs from Arun Joshi)