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HindustanTimes Mon,15 Sep 2014

Kashmir Valley happy over Modi invite to Sharif

IANS  Srinagar, May 22, 2014
First Published: 16:03 IST(22/5/2014) | Last Updated: 16:05 IST(22/5/2014)
Indian Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi's invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing in ceremony has evoked a positive response in the Kashmir Valley.

 
Both separatist and mainstream politicians as well as residents here have welcomed the step.
 
"Excellent move by Modi to invite SAARC leaders, especially Pakistan PM for his swearing in. Hope this is beginning of sustained talks," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on twitter site.
 
"At the same time I can't help wonder what (the) BJP would have said if a PM designate Rahul Gandhi had done the same thing," he added.
 
Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat, too welcomed the decision, adding this should also translate into addressing the Kashmir problem in line with the aspirations of its people.
 
The Pakistan government says Sharif has not yet decided whether or not he should attend Modi's oath taking in New Delhi Monday.
 
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has, however, dismissed the change of guard in India, saying New Delhi's Kashmir policy won't change no matter who the prime minister is.
 
The man on the street in the Kashmir Valley is also looking forward to better India-Pakistan relations under Modi.
 
"He has done the right thing by inviting Sharif... This will help undo the impression that Modi will rule India as a hawk," said Shabir Ahmad, a 39-year-old resident of Narwara area in Srinagar.
 
Others believe that Modi would work for peace between the two countries but for that the Kashmir problem would have to be addressed.
 
"Let us not play the ostrich. Kashmir is the main problem. Anybody who wants to seriously apply himself to better India-Pakistan relations must strive to work for the resolution of this basic problem," Farooq Ahmad, 53, a bank officer, pointed out.
 
As a Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government prepares to get into the driving seat, Kashmiris say Modi could disprove all they have heard about him -- from his rivals.
 
"For us there are scary memories of Gujarat and Godhra riots. As the prime minister of India, Modi will have to prove he was not behind those events," said Muzaffar Ahmad, a college teacher.
 
"For this to be done and seen, Kashmiri Muslims and others living outside will have to be taken on board through positive action.
 
"He cannot rule without being every Indian's prime minister. Winning elections is one thing but governing a vast, multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural country like India is a very difficult call," he added.
 
According to Ahmad, "the most difficult task would be working for better ties with Pakistan and winning the hearts and minds of Kashmiris".
 
Added Noor Muhammad Wani, 61, a resident of Shalteng in Srinagar's outskirts: "Congress failure or deliberate reluctance to resolve the Kashmir dispute somehow gives me an impression that Modi will definitely ensure peace in Kashmir. This will be possible only if he takes Nawaz Sharif on board."
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