Indo-Pak dialogue must include Kashmiris: Malik
Calling for a more meaningful engagement of the Kashmiri people in the peace process, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik on Friday said this would be the only way forward for talks between India and Pakistan to succeed.
"Don't humiliate the Kashmiris, trust them and take them along with you as it is their destiny which is being decided," Malik said ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday evening.
Malik, a prominent separatist leader who was released from jail in 1994 (after his arrest in August 1990), renounced the use of violence to attain the goal of self-determination for the people of Kashmir and has been mobilising public opinion in India and Pakistan.
"Both India and Pakistan have been claiming that the ongoing peace dialogue is irreversible. But where do the Kashmiris figure in the scheme of things? Decisions about their future have been made by others and later communicated to them. Is that fair?" queried Malik, stating this would be his essential message to Singh during their talks.
Malik said he would not focus on solutions to the Kashmir issue but on how to work out a dialogue mechanism with Kashmiris during his talks with Singh.
This will be Prime Minister Singh's second meeting with a separatist group outside the fold of the Hurriyat Conference to broaden the dialogue process. Last month Singh met up with People's Conference chairman Sajjad Lone.
Malik asserted that the optimism in the peace process with Pakistan was not reflected on the ground. "Unless the ordinary Kashmiri folk are taken into confidence and also roped in the decision making process, what meaning does the dialogue have?" he asked.
The talks with Malik are aimed at widening the scope of the peace process in Jammu and Kashmir and come a week before Singh's proposed round-table talks with political leaders, separatists and other groups.
Singh has invited all Kashmiri politicians, including separatists, for a round table meeting in the capital on February 24. Except for the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) headed by Shabir Ahmed Shah who has rejected participation, all others have agreed to come.
The list of invitees include Kashmir mainstream political leaders from the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the National Conference, the People's Democratic Party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Panthers' Party, besides the moderate Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Sajjad Lone's Peoples' Conference.
The discussions are expected to be opened without any specific agenda, as the Prime Minister wants to listen to the divergent viewpoints.