Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan will have a series of sessions with Kashmiri separatist leaders in New Delhi on November 14 in what appears to be a clear bid to seek their viewpoint ahead of his talks with his Indian Counter part Shiv Shankar Menon.
The Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks are scheduled for November 15-16, as part of the decision taken at a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Havana on September 16.
Riaz Khan will be meeting leaders of the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference, and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik on November 14. These separatist leaders have received a communication and invite from Pakistan High Commission in Delhi to this effect, they confirmed to Hindustan Times on Saturday.
There also is a possibility of the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah being invited, too, for the talks with Khan.
These talks with the Kashmiri leaders are a sequel to the promise of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf held out to Chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in New York in September that Pakistan would take the Kashmir leadership into confidence before committing anything to India on the Kashmir crisis.
Moderate separatists have faith in Pakistan’s leadership, especially after Musharraf Government accorded them a recognition of sorts and held a series of meetings with the Mirwaiz and his colleagues . “ Pakistan has always supported our cause and it has also brought about significant change in its stand point to clinch a solution to end the era of bloodshed,” observed Mirwaiz. “ Pakistan is adopting a realistic approach,” he told Hindustan Times.
Mirwaiz will be away in Egyptian capital Cairo, attending an international conference on Middle East issues; Abdul Ghani Bhat, Bilal Gani Lone and Abbas Ansari will represent his faction.
Significantly, the hard-liner Syed Ali Shah Geelani- the loudest critical voice of Indo-Pak dialogue, for he believes it would lead nowhere - would also be meeting Pakistani Foreign Secretary. “ I am going to meet him to exchange views, that does not mean that I am in agreement with the Pakistan Government’s current policy on Kashmir.”.
Some circles are reading it as an attempt by Pakistan establishment to bring back Geelani into Islamabad’s fold and mollify his criticism of President Musharraf’s policy of dialogue with India , and “ out of box” solutions on Kashmir.
But Geelani feels that it was “ merely an inter-action. There is no harm in having interaction,” though he thinks that similar dialogue with Delhi was not possible because of “ its rigidity on Kashmir”.
JKLF chairman Yasin Malik has a “ clear agenda”. “ We would stress that Pakistan should work on a process of reconciliation and solution of Kashmir in keeping in line with the wishes of the people of Kashmir.”
All these leaders had met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in April 2005.