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Pak official to meet J&K separatists

The Pak foreign secy will seek their viewpoint ahead of his talks with Indian counterpart, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2006 14:43 IST
Arun Joshi

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan will have a series of sessions with Kashmiri separatist leaders in New Delhi on November 14 in what appears to be a clear bid to seek their viewpoint ahead of his talks with his Indian Counter part Shiv Shankar Menon.

The Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks are scheduled for November 15-16, as part of the decision taken at a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Havana on September 16.

Riaz Khan will be meeting leaders of the two factions of the Hurriyat Conference, and JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik on November 14. These separatist leaders  have received a communication and invite from  Pakistan High Commission in Delhi to this effect, they confirmed to Hindustan Times on Saturday.

There also is a possibility of the Jammu Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah being invited, too, for the talks with Khan.

These talks with the  Kashmiri leaders  are  a sequel  to the  promise of Pakistan  Pervez Musharraf  held out to Chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq  in New York in September that  Pakistan would  take the Kashmir leadership into confidence  before committing  anything to India on the Kashmir crisis.

Moderate separatists have  faith in Pakistan’s leadership, especially after Musharraf Government accorded them  a recognition  of sorts  and held a series of meetings with the Mirwaiz and his colleagues . “ Pakistan has always supported our cause and it has also  brought about  significant change in its  stand point to clinch a solution  to end the era of bloodshed,” observed Mirwaiz. “ Pakistan  is adopting a realistic approach,” he  told  Hindustan Times.

Mirwaiz will be away in Egyptian capital Cairo, attending an international conference on Middle East issues; Abdul Ghani Bhat, Bilal Gani Lone and Abbas Ansari will represent his faction.

Significantly, the hard-liner  Syed Ali Shah Geelani- the loudest critical voice of Indo-Pak dialogue, for he believes it would lead nowhere - would also be meeting  Pakistani  Foreign Secretary. “ I am going to meet  him to  exchange views, that does not mean that I am  in agreement  with the Pakistan Government’s current  policy on Kashmir.”.

Some circles are reading  it as an attempt by Pakistan establishment to bring back Geelani into Islamabad’s fold and mollify his criticism of President Musharraf’s policy of dialogue with India , and  “ out of box” solutions on Kashmir. 

But Geelani  feels that it was “ merely an inter-action. There is no harm in having  interaction,” though he  thinks that similar dialogue with Delhi was not possible because of “ its  rigidity on Kashmir”.

JKLF chairman  Yasin Malik has a “ clear agenda”. “ We would stress that Pakistan should work on a process of  reconciliation and solution of Kashmir in keeping in line with the wishes of the people of  Kashmir.”

All these leaders had met Pakistan President  Pervez Musharraf  in April 2005.