Spotlight on Delhi-Hurriyat talks ahead of PM's visit
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's upcoming visit has Kashmir agog with speculation of fresh initiatives to address the Kashmir problem and likelihood of the PM reaching out to the alienated population.india Updated: Jun 09, 2013 20:53 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's upcoming visit has Kashmir agog with speculation of fresh initiatives to address the Kashmir problem and likelihood of the PM reaching out to the alienated population.
The speculation of a fresh dialogue with separatists was lent credence by J-K Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Saifuddin Soz, though with a rider.
"Doors are open for Hurriyat or anybody else for that matter for holding talks (with the PM). Separatists should not wait for invitations time and again," said Soz.
The PCC chief, however, was quick to add: "Hurriyat will have to fight polls to prove their representative character," said Soz.
Soz's statement came just two days after moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq showed willingness to once again engage New Delhi, "provided it shows seriousness".
"We have always been for a result-oriented dialogue process on the Kashmir dispute. Unfortunately, there has been no movement on suggestions made by us to the government of India," said Farooq on Friday.
Peoples Conference chief Bilal Lone, a member of moderate Hurriyat, rejected Soz's precondition to contest polls.
"We treat Kashmir as a dispute. If we will contest elections what will be the difference between us and pro-India politicians?" said Lone.
"Polls are for governance. It should have no bearing on the Kashmir issue," said Lone.
On speculation of fresh dialogue offer from the Centre, Lone said, "The Hurriyat will discuss the issue threadbare soon. Any dialogue should start from Srinagar and not New Delhi or Islamabad."
The back channel efforts started by former home minister P Chidambaram in 2009 to reach out to separatists, which were described as "secret dialogue", hit a dead end in 2010 in the wake of streets protests and civilian deaths.
At the peak of the 2010 protests, which left 113 dead, both the factions of the Hurriyat, led by the Mirwaiz and hardline Syed Ali Shah Geelani, asked New Delhi "to show seriousness towards dialogue process."
The Hurriyats asked the Centre to revoke laws like the AFSPA, PSA etc, release political prisoners, end human rights abuses and demilitarise of civilian areas to prove its seriousness.
The PM is tentatively scheduled to visit Kashmir in the last week of June to throw open the 11-km railway tunnel, joining Qazigund with Banihal in south Kashmir.
Separatist JKLF has called for a shutdown against the PM's visit. "The PM has failed to deliver on the Kashmir problem in the last nine years," JKLF chief Yasin Malik said recently.