Omar Abdullah meets visiting Pakistani Kashmir leader

September 20th, 2011 - 12:41 am ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Sep 19 (IANS) For the first time since Kashmir’s division in 1947, leaders of Indian and Pakistani Kashmir met here Monday.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met Sultan Mehmood Chaudary, former prime minister of Pakistani Kashmir, at the residence of a local businessman who had invited both to his son’s marriage.

Chaudhary, who was in power 1996 to 2001, and Abdullah exchanged greetings at the uptown Sant Nagar residence of Zahoor Ahmad Watali, where they also had food together.

The former Pakistani Kashmir prime minister also visited the Royal Springs golf course on the banks of the Dal Lake earlier.

He went around the golf course in a golf cart accompanied by Muhammad Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-azadi Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

Although Chaudhury has described his visit to the valley as a private one, he also spoke to some media persons during his stay at his host’s residence.

According to media reports, the Pakistani Kashmir leader favoured complete demilitarisation of both the Indian and Pakistan parts and the declaration of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, including its Pakistan part, as a free trade zone.

“There should be no restrictions on the movements of the people living on the two sides of the line of control (LOC) if the problem has to be resolved,” Chaudhury told some media persons here.

He also reportedly said he personally favoured moving beyond Pakistan’s stated position on Kashmir, which included the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.

Chaudhury’s remarks did not go well with hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who issued a statement criticising him.

“The implementation of the UN resolutions on Kashmir is the only solution to the over 60-year old problem. I completely dismiss Sultan Mehmood Chaudary’s statement that there is a solution possible by moving beyond the UN resolutions on Kashmir,” Geelani said in the statement.

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