The chairman of the Hurriyat Conference’s moderate faction, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on Tuesday scoffed at reports painting him and other Kashmiri separatists as traitors for attending a Pakistan Day function in New Delhi, saying he was there to support the renewed dialogue process between the two countries.
The Mirwaiz, along with hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yaseen Mallik, was among top separatist leaders to attend a dinner hosted by Pakistani high commissioner Abdul Basit on Monday.
“We (his Hurriyat faction) were in Delhi to express our support to the dialogue process between the two countries. Unfortunately, there is a media trial every time we land in Delhi. We are called traitors … our visit is seen as an attempt to sabotage the peace process,” he said.
Known to pursue a moderate line on the Kashmir crisis, the Mirwaiz said the dialogue process was the talking point at the function. “The problem with Indian media is as long as we talk about bijli and sadak it’s okay, the moment we talk about people’s aspirations, we become villains.”
He pitched for resumption of talks which he said would benefit Kashmiris on both sides of the border. “The successful election in the state doesn’t take away the reality that Kashmir is a political problem,” he said.
The Hurriyat leader reacted sharply to Union minister Gen (retired) VK Singh’s controversial tweets under the hashtags #Duty and #Disgust, suggesting he was not comfortable about attending the function. “If he was not happy he should have refused to attend the function. Unfortunately, the level of diplomacy between the two countries has deteriorated. The kind of language being used is very sad,” he said.