Smita: Hurriyat leaders had refused to meet Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was in J&K. Why should Mr. Shabir Shah and you be so upset when Mr. Advani does not want to meet him?
Ram Jethmalani: Things have changed since
then. September 11 has made a sea change in the world scenario as well as in the subcontinent, including both India and Pakistan. I think we should take advantage of the situation and show statesmanship and not avoid meetings. On the other hand, when Mr. Pant went to Kashmir, on the eve of his visit (April 5, 2002), a long statement was issued by the Government in which a whole paragraph was devoted to a request made to the Hurriyat for joining talks unconditionally. Why did they do it?
Ehsmang: Do you think that accession of Jammu & Kashmir to India is final?
Ram Jethmalani: If you are talking about the legal position, then it's final. If you are talking about the human angle then it is different. In history nothing stays constant. Huge kingdoms of the past have fallen. The mighty Soviet empire has broken up. Still over 93,000 sq. km of Indian territory is with China. Both Houses of Parliament have passed resolutions promising to get the territory back. What can we do about it? The portion that's with China is also an atoot ang of India.
Lsingh: What are their demands and are they anyway linked to Pakistan?
Ram Jethmalani: It will be foolish to deny that they have had some sources of inspiration from Pakistan. If you are talking to Pakistan and Gen. Musharraf, then what is the harm in talking to Hurriyat? They are our citizens even if they do not think themselves to be that way. We have offered to talk to them on 5th of April, then why not now?
Amitbhan: Will the elections help in bringing peace in the state?
Ram Jethmalani: Yes, provided the elections are not a replica of the notorious elections that have happened in the past. Government has shown resolve for free and fair elections and I am quite sure that the Election Commission will leave no stones unturned to make sure that the government's resolve is met.
Ehsmang: Does Mr. Shabir Shah think that Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) is also a disputed territory?
Ram Jethmalani: I don't know what Shabir Shah thinks but I am sure that people in PoK are not happy with Pakistani rule. And there is an anti-Pakistan movement even inside PoK. That's why Mr. Amanullah is anxious to talk to the Kashmir committee. We do desire to accept his invitation and have talks with him.