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J&K watching Indo-Pak foreign talks

Separatists believe there are 3 parties to the "Kashmir dispute" - India, Pak and the people of J&K, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2006 12:56 IST
Arun Joshi

Kashmiri leadership is intently watching the events in run up to the forthcoming Indo-Pak foreign secretary level talks in New Delhi next week.

A majority of the Kashmiri leaders hope that the two nations would find ways to build decisively on the peace process, which has eluded them so far.

They will mount pressure on India and Pakistan in their own ways. Kashmir is the biggest stakeholder in these talks. Even the worst critics of the talks feel that a comprehensive and composite approach the role of Delhi and Islamabad is imperative for the Kashmir solution.

Separatists in particular believe that there are three parties to what they call " Kashmir dispute"- India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Prominent separatist leaders are meeting Pakistani foreign secretary on November 14 and impress upon him that these talks should look for a ways to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the " wishes of the people."

" We want a smooth dialogue with an honourable solution in sight which respects the wider public opinion of the people of the state," moderate faction Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Hindustan Times. Three top leaders would represent his faction in talks with the Pakistani official.

National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party and Peoples Democratic Forum- three key regional players in Kashmir politics- have repeatedly stressed in the public calls that India and Pakistan have no option but to talk peace and resolve Kashmir. All these political groups have the strength of the peoples’ vote behind them, in the 2002 Assembly elections, which were hailed as " free and fair."

Much before the NAM summit in Havana in September, the political groups in Kashmir had started urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to meet President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan in the Cuban capital, on the sidelines of the summit, to resume the Indo-Pak dialogue that had got stuck because of the 7/11 train bombings in Mumbai. NC president Omar Abdullah had appealed to the sense of their statesmanship to " seize" the opportunity and talk.

His political rival , PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had stated that the two leaders should unshackle their inhibitions.

" It is good that they heeded our pleas that time," said Mehbooba Mufti said. " Now the time has come for the implementation of the promises made in Havana. I hope that the foreign secretaries will discover a common ground to move ahead," she said.

PDP is of the view that Kashmir holds key to peace in the entire South Asian region.

Despite a huge skepticism arising out of the past experience, the leadership of Kashmir that has a stake in the Indo-Pak peace process wants New Delhi and Islamabad to firmly board the peace process by removing the hurdles that have often grounded it in the past.

Barring hardline Hurriyat faction of Syed Ali Shah Geelani which while accusing others of rigidity and perennially predicting doom for these talks, other groups have voiced hopes. Geelani believes that these talks are fruitless, but others don’t share his view in entirety.

First Published: Nov 06, 2006 12:56 IST