Most mainstream parties, including chief minister Omar Abdullah, sounded upbeat about Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's meeting with Prime Minister Mannmohan Singh but separatists expressed disappointment over exclusion of Kashmir from talks.
"This time we have not heard jingoism from Pakistan that Kashmir first and everything else later. I was not expecting too much in the first place, nothing to be disappointed (about the Zardari trip). We wanted a continuous engagement. It is perhaps a possibility where in we can meet and talk," said chief minister Omar Abdullah in Srinagar. He was quick to add: "Jammu and Kashmir is an important issue between the two countries that has festered for very long".
Urging flip to the cross-Loc trader between Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Abdullah expressed willingness to visit the other side of Kashmir.
Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron Mufti Mohammad Syeed described the meeting between Zardar and Sing as positive development. "This development would help in finding pragmatic solutions to a number of issues that affecting relationship between the two neighboring countries," said Sayeed.
Ruling National Conference, which is Abdullah's party, issued a statement welcome the meeting. "People of the entire state welcome the talks between Singh and Zardai. The talks have provided another opportunity for both the heads to resolve all outstanding issues, including the vexed Kashmir conflict, which is the main cause of hostility between the two countries," the statement read.
Moderate Hurriyat conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was cautious in welcomg the development. "We have seen so many times leaders and policy makers of both the countries coming together on the table, but it is unfortunate that they haven’t been able to move an inch forward on Kashmir issue," he said.
The Mirwaiz, while expressing willigness to act as bridge between the countries said, "“ We don’t need events. There must be the initiation of a process which could lead us to settlement. There need to be change of mindsets on both sides.”
hardline Hurriyat conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani who opposed tooth and nail the Musharraf's 4-point formula, warned against any followup on that. "Pakistan has to only back right to self determination in Kashmir," said Geelani, who recently opposed Pakistan's move to confer Most Favored Nation (MFN) status to India. "Nothing has changed on ground in Kashmir. Why Pakistan has doled out this MFN for India?” asked Geelani.