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Pranab's Pak visit kindles hope among kashmiris

Chairman of the separatist DFP, SA Shah expresses his hope that such visits can help smoothen the relations between the two nations, reports Tejinder Singh Sodhi .

india Updated: Jan 13, 2007 18:21 IST

The first ever visit of Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian foreign minister to Pakistan has raised some hopes in the minds of the people of the trouble torn valley. The people of Kashmir see this visit as a positive step taken towards resolving the long pending Kashmir dispute.

Both mainstream and separatists political parties in Kashmir while welcoming the move have expressed their hope that resolution of the Kashmir dispute would be given the 'top most priority' in all such meetings.

While speaking to Hindustan Times, Chairman of the separatist Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Shabir Ahmed Shah expressed his hope that such visits can help smoothen the relations between the two nations and will help create conducive atmosphere in which Kashmir issue would be discussed and resolved.

"The meeting between Prime Minster Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharraf in Havana followed by the secretary level talks in New Delhi were a milestone in the relations between the two nations that have created a ground for the resolution of Kashmir dispute," said Shabir Ahmed Shah.

Adding he said, "Now that Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee is on his first ever visit to Pakistan, where besides meeting his own counterpart he is also scheduled to meet Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharaff and Prime Minster Showkat Aziz, I am hopeful that Kashmir issue which is the core issue between the two nations would come up in the meeting. I do look forward that this visit would definitely bring out something positive towards resolving the long pending dispute of Kashmir. Pakistan on its part has shown sincerity and now the ball is in the court of Indian government and now they have to show some sincerity in resolving the decades long dispute."

When asked to comment on the fact that separatists have always wanted the Kashmir issue to be a trilateral issue that sees Kashmir people as a party in the dispute but isn't the meeting between the leadership of two nations aimed at sidelining the claims of separatist leaders in Kashmir that Kashmir issue is a trilateral one.

"We the Kashmiri people are the prime party in any such meeting that is aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue, as Kashmir issue cannot be resolved without the active participation of Kashmiri people, but such meeting can create conducive atmosphere for the trilateral talks. If people of Kashmir are sidelined such talks would yield no result" said Shabir Ahmed Shah.

Leaders of the ruling alliance partner in the state, People Democratic Party has also expressed hope that the visit of Indian Foreign minister to Pakistan would help in bringing out a positive outcome for the people of Kashmir.

Speaking to Hindustan Times Senior PDP leader and state forest minister Qazi Mohammed Afzal said, "We are hopeful that defiantly this visit would bring out something concrete for the people of the state who want peace to prevail in the state."

Adding he said, "Our PM and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi are committed in bringing out peace in the region. People of the state want peace, the declaration of ceasefire between the two countries on the line of control has given a new lease of life to thousand of families, and now I am hopeful that this visit would help in resolving all other pending disputes and brining out normalcy in the region."

Experts in Kashmir are of the opinion that such visits would prove to be beneficial for the people of Kashmir in a long run, "Indian government is responding to the proposals of Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharraf and it will help in sustaining hope of peace for the people of Kashmir. This is a positive step towards resolving the Kashmir issue and it is the ultimate object, which enables the people to feel the future vision of peace, comfort, prosperity and honor in the state. The continuous negotiation will help in resolving the five decades long issue." Nasir Mirza, expert on Kashmir issue and Head of Media education and research Center, University of Kashmir said.

First Published: Jan 13, 2007 18:21 IST