Kashmir must join India-Pakistan dialogue: Separatists (Second Lead)

July 26th, 2011 - 11:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) Kashmiri separatist leaders met Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar here Tuesday evening, asserting their stated position that their inclusion in the peace process was “imperative” to solve the over 60-year-old Kashmir tangle.

Chiefs of the separatist Hurriyat factions moderate Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and hardliner Syed Ali Geelani met Khar separately here in the evening, a day ahead of the formal talks between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers.

The separate meetings that lasted for about three hours together were held at the Pakistan high commission office in the heart of the Indian capital.

Justifying their meetings with the Pakistani leader, the separatist leaders said they told Khar that Kashmir was not a bilateral issue between the two countries but should be solved as per the “aspirations” of the people.

“Unless India and Pakistan don’t include Kashmiris in the dialogue process, the Kashmir issue won’t be resolved,” Hardline Hurriyat leader Geelani, who met Khar first, told reporters.

The Mirwaiz spoke almost on the same line.

“We support the dialogue at every level. But it is imperative that the Kashmiri leadership should be involved in any process aimed at resolving the issue,” the moderate Hurriyat leader told reporters after his meeting with the visiting Pakistani minister.

The Mirwaiz said while confidence building measures like enhancing people to people contacts and trade between the people of the divided Jammu and Kashmir were important, “but we also need to address the political issue”.

Asked how hopeful they were of the latest India-Pakistan talks, Geelani said: “As long as the ground situation in Kashmir remains the same, there are no hopes that the issue will be resolved.”

But the Mirwaiz sounded optimistic. “It is a welcome step. But they have to make sure to end the dispute. The road to development and peace in the region runs through Kashmir,” he said.

Asked if the meeting with the Pakistani leader was appropriate that too ahead of her talks with External Affair Minister S.M. Krishna, the Mirwaiz said: “Let’s not hide the reality. Kashmir is the core issue and it is important that the Kashmiri leaders talk to both India and Pakistan.”

He said the faction of the Hurriyat Conference he heads was open to negotiations with India. “That is our stand and we are committed to the dialogue,” he said.

The Hurriyat leaders also termed as “unfair” the arrest in the US of suspected Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence operative and separatist Kashmiri leader Ghulam Nabi Fai.

Geelani said Fai represented the voice of Kashmiris and “it is not illegal to speak for Kashmiris”.

The Mirwaiz said Fai’s arrested was “unwanted that won’t do any good, but will vitiate the peace process”.

The Hurriyat leaders flew in from Srinagar Tuesday morning.

Yasin Malik, chairman of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), who was also invited, decided to skip the talks with Khar in Delhi as he had met her in Islamabad on Monday.

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