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Time has come to build on positives: Hurriyat

The Hurriyat delegation, including Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Lone, stayed back in New Delhi for two more days hoping to receive an invitation from PM.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2007 16:34 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Describing their nine-day visit to Pakistan as a "big movement forward", a three-member team of the separatist Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday said that the time had come to build on the positives between India and Pakistan in their renewed dialogue process.

"There is a huge groundswell of support among pro-separatist movement groups in Azad Kashmir for a resolution to the problem. There is a big movement forward in both thinking and approaches and we think time has come to build on this. We have to catch the bull by its horns," a key member of the group said, a day after their arrival from Islamabad on Monday evening.

The Hurriyat delegation, including Abdul Ghani Bhat and Bilal Lone, stayed back in New Delhi for two more days hoping to receive an invitation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office to apprise him of their visit during which they met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf twice.

This was the second visit in a year of the moderate Hurriyat faction, led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, to Pakistan. They met the Pakistani leaders and other stakeholders to the Kashmir issue, and the Mirwaiz said he had found a large number of takers in Pakistani Kashmir for his suggestion to form two working groups.

These groups, he mentioned, could be called contact groups, which could provide vital inputs to those involved in both Track I and Track II diplomacy.

"Much water... and in the case of Kashmir, blood has flown under the Jhelum. And as the Mirwaiz rightly pointed out during the trip, we cannot afford to turn Kashmir into more graveyards," said the Hurriyat member.

"This is the tragedy of the situation. There are certain sections of society who are out to politicise the atmosphere for vested interests and keep the conflict running. But I don't think that will last for long in the current atmosphere," added the Hurriyat member, who said he noticed a perceptible change in mindsets in this current trip.

Defending their move to meet various "Kashmiri commanders", including Mushtaq Zargar alias Latrum, one of the three militants exchanged in the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane, the Hurriyat leaders set it was imperative to get everybody on board.

"The peace process in the valley should be all inclusive. In this context, we must understand that these people too can play a role if they are included in the dialogue process. We wanted to find out their thoughts of the ongoing dialogue between India and Pakistan."

Zargar is the Al-Umar chief based in Pakistan.

Their two meetings with Musharraf, said the Hurriyat, was an eye opener because he seemed more determined than the previous occasion to find a speedy resolution to the Kashmir issue.

"He encouraged us to continue with our work and involve as many sections of Kashmir's society. There seemed to be a greater eagerness and to an extent, impatience, on his side," maintained the Hurriyat member.

"Sure, we discussed his four-point formula but that is just a set of ideas brought to the table. These proposals are flexible and can be improvised. But what he emphasised was that there has to be movement forward."

Noticing that there was also a discernible difference among Pakistani leaders towards India, especially on some of the contentious issues that have dogged the two countries, the Hurriyat felt there was some progress on common concerns after both leaders met on the sidelines of Havana summit in September last year.

"There were positive feelings in this trip. The ball is now in New Delhi's court to take the dialogue process further."

First Published: Jan 30, 2007 16:34 IST