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J&K optimistic about Indo-Pak talks

india Updated: Nov 15, 2006 20:51 IST
Arun Joshi

The conclusion of the fourth round of Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks in New Delhi on Wednesday is seen as a step forward by many analysts and political leadership in Jammu and Kashmir.

Political observers studying Indo-Pak relations in the context of Kashmir saw a whiff of optimism in the talks, though they felt it would have been better had Delhi and Islamabad touched Kashmir and Siachen issue in more specific terms.

But they felt strongly that it was a forward movement. "Yes, it is a step  forward," said Prof Noor Mohammad Baba, head of the political science department of Kashmir university. 

"The fact is that the two countries are victims of different degrees of terrorism. The working out of modalities of the anti-terrorism mechanism represents the intention to move forward."

He, however, cautioned that the whole thing rests on implementation of the  mechanism. But, it has taken off from the standoffish position, that is a good sign.

Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Shah who was among the separatist leaders who called on Pakistani Foreign Secretary  Riaz Khan in New Delhi on Tuesday evening, told Hindustan Times, "It is a good start. At least they (India and Pakistan) are talking. We are always in favour of dialogue. That makes me happy that talks have gone off well," he  said.

Shabir was referring to the comments made by the two foreign secretaries in their respective press conferences that the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere. Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon called those as "fruitful."

According to Shabir Shah, the dialogue can achieve better results if the Kashmiri leadership is involved. He said that his suggestion of constituting a working group  of Kashmiri separatists, which would deal with the foreign offices of both the countries, could be a serious step in this direction.

The people in Jammu and Kashmir are skeptical  of such talks. Their skepticism is fed by the hard-line elements. For leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, these talks were meaningless exercise unless the "basic issue of Kashmir is tackled in the purview of the UN resolutions-holding plebiscite."

"There have been 130 dialogues between the two countries since 1947. What has come out of that," he asked. "Nothing," he answered. "The problem is there where it was. Rather it has worsened. There is army in largest presence in Kashmir and human rights violations have multiplied. If this dialogue cannot achieve the minimum purposes, what is the fun of it," Geelani says.

On the other hand, the state BJP chief Ashok Khajuria questions the very logic of involving Pakistan in joint terror mechanism. "Let’s bear in mind that we are victims of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. How can perpetrator of terrorism be involved in checking terrorism," he asks.

"It defies all logic. Let Pakistan stop all acts of terrorism, then only we can say that Islamabad is having sincere intentions. As of today, those are not there. Let’s face the reality,” he said.

Amid these viewpoints of hard-liners of the two sides of the fence, the mainstream leadership is seeing signs of hope. "We are hopeful that the talks would yield results. We should not be impatient for results, though there is need to give momentum to the process. That would keep the hope alive,” former Tourism Minister and senior leader of PDP Ghulam Hassan Mir said.

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