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'Breakthrough over Kashmir unlikely

The Hurriyat says India has already set its agenda and has pushed Pak to the corner, reports Rashid Ahmad.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2006 18:19 IST

Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the hard-line faction of Hurriyat Conference said that he did not expect any breakthrough or movement forward on the issue of Kashmir during talks between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan in New Delhi on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"India has already set its agenda. They (New Delhi) are not willing to discuss Kashmir. They have raised the bogey of cross border terrorism and have pushed Pakistan to the corner on it. Pakistan foreign secretary would have to consume all the time to reply and respond to the Indian inquisitions," he told mediapersons, before leaving for New Delhi for a meeting with Pakistan foreign secretary Riyaz Ahmad Khan on Monday.

The Pak foreign secretary has invited Geelani and other separatist leaders for meeting during the former's New Delhi visit. "I am meeting with Riyaz Ahmad Khan on Tuesday. I will put forth my point of view to him, and would like him to take up the issue of Kashmir on priority with his Indian counterpart," he said.

"We reject all the road maps being put forward in the name of self-rule, autonomy, status quo or softening of line of control. UN resolutions, which grant the people of Jammu and Kashmir the right of self-determination, is the only solution to the issue of Kashmir," Geelani said adding, "and the government of Pakistan should push this forward, and convince the government of India to implement the UN resolution".

"India will strictly restrict to the issue of terrorism during talks. Oonhon ne Pakistan ko ess masalay par jawab dihi ke makam par khada kar diya hai (They (Indian government) have put Pakistan on the defensive on this issue). Pakistan foreign secretary will have little time to raise the issue of Kashmir", he said.

Geelani said that he was not against dialogue. "We think that dialogue is the only solution to the issue of Kashmir. But it (dialogue) should not be a formality. India and Pakistan have been talking for the past 58 years. They have reached upon 130 agreements and pacts during this period. But these had little helped in resolving the issue of Kashmir," Geelani said.

He said that the government of India should accept the disputed status of Kashmir, release all jailed Kashmiri people, and withdraw its forces from Jammu and Kashmir before any dialogue. "Only then dialogue would be meaningful and result-oriented", he said.

Geelani, who despite being a pro Pakistan leader is currently out of Pakistan establishment's favour, said that he would not compromise on his principles and would strive for the resolution of Kashmir against all odds. He appealed to the people to close their ranks and launch peoples' movement to "put pressure on India to agree to the resolution of Kashmir issue".

A team of moderate Hurriyat faction is already in New Delhi to meet the Pakistan foreign secretary. Shabir Ahmad Shah, chief of Democratic Party is leaving for Delhi on Tuesday to meet Khan.

Shah said that he would ask the foreign secretary to form a Working Group of the representatives of India, Pakistan and Kashmiri people on Kashmir to resolve the issue. "I support the peace process between India and Pakistan, and the confidence building measures they are taking. But the main issue is Kashmir. Unless this issue is resolved, all other measures would be tentative," he said.

"The confidence building measures taken by New Delhi and Islamabad have no impact at the ground level in Jammu and Kashmir. I will tell the Pak foreign secretary to raise this issue with his Indian counterpart. The government of India should withdraw special powers to its forces and release all the detained persons," Shah said.

Javaid Ahmad Mir, chairman of rival faction of JKLF, said that unless the dialogue was Kashmir-centric, the peace process between India and Pakistan could not move forward. "We want breakthrough on Kashmir. They (India and Pakistan) should discuss Kashmir and the Kashmiri people should be included in the dialogue. Only then, the peace process can be durable and permanent", he said.
Mir, who has not been invited, said that he supported the peace process between India and Pakistan but "we need result. We are answerable to our people, and they want the resolution of Kashmir issue", Mir told Hindustan Times.

First Published: Nov 13, 2006 17:03 IST