Unnerved by Pakistan’s new approach of talking trade over Kashmir, separatists from the valley have lined up to meet visiting Pakistan foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani in New Delhi on his invitation.
“It’s unfortunate that no headway is being made vis-à-vis Kashmir. Nothing has moved despite several rounds of Indo-Pak talks. Talks seem not serving any purpose. We stressed the need to push for final resolution to the dispute during our interaction,” said moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who met Jilani on Tuesday afternoon.
Most separatists are unhappy with Indo-Pak relation making headway on trade issues and not Kashmir problem.
“Relations between India and Pakistan cannot be strong enough till the Kashmir issue is resolved,” said hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who opposed Pakistan’s decision to grant most favoured nation to India.
The 83-year-old separatists said he reminded the Pakistan foreign secretary that “it’s incumbent upon Pakistan to push for Kashmir solution first”
“It’s moral, diplomatic and democratic responsibility of Pakistan to pressure India to resolve the six-decade old dispute…Kashmir is not a border issue that the two countries will sit across and resolve it. Kashmir is an international dispute,” Geelani told the Hindustan Times after meeting Jilani.
The hardline separatist, who advocates for right to self determination, told the Pakistan delegation to push for a Kashmir resolution that considers “its historical background”.
Geelani is learnt to have raised the issue of alleged human rights abuses, use of Public safety Act against youth and his “round-the-clock detention” at his Srinagar residence with Jilani.
Both the Mirwaiz and Geelani said they do not oppose improved relations between India and Pakistan but “Kashmir should be at the core of the talks”.
“Neither are we against Indo-Pak parleys nor CBMs. Our sole concern is Kashmir issue should be resolved according to wishes and aspirations of people of Kashmir,” said the Mirwaiz.
Another separatist leader, Yasin Malik, who heads pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, asked both the countries to seize the present moment to resolve the problem.
“Kashmir has witnessed transition from violent movement to peaceful struggle. This should be acknowledged by the two countries and push for resolution as soon as possible. India and Pakistan cannot afford to freeze the Kashmir issue. If they don’t resolve the problem, it will have far reaching consequences and younger generation can once again explore the option of taking up the arms,” said Malik.
All the separatist leaders --- the Mirwaiz, Geelani and Malik --- met Jilani separately in New Delhi. It has been a ritualistic diplomatic gesture from Pakistan, much to chagrin of New Delhi, to invite separatist leaders whenever senior official visits India.