Kashmir Committee meets Mufti, supports dialogue for peace
23 November 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: The 6-member Kashmir Committee headed by Mr. Ram Jethmalani, MP called on J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed here this evening and exchanged views on efforts to solve the Kashmir problem through dialogue. The meeting lasted for more than one hour. Earlier in the day, the Committee arrived here from Srinagar after holding discussions with different groups of public opinion. Interacting with the Committee, the Chief Minister apprised the members of his coalition Government’s agenda to create conditions in the State conducive for dialogue and early restoration of peace and normalcy with dignity. He referred to Governor’s address to the joint session of legislature and said that his Government believed that dialogue should not only be held with representatives of the people elected in the most free, fair and transparent elections, but also with other groups to achieve a lasting and durable peace. He welcomed efforts of Kashmir Committee for pursuing dialogue in Kashmir and wished them good luck in their endeavours. The Kashmir Committee told the Chief Minister that it sincerely believed that Kashmir problem is best solved by all Kashmiris working together. They made it clear that Kashmiris include all those who were forced out by the events and their return and rehabilitation is vital for peace. Giving their perception based on feed back gathered during their stay in the Valley, the members of the Committee said that there is a perceptible change in state’s climate, mainly due to certain steps taken by the new Government which is in office hardly for over 20 days. They told the Chief Minister that there is a growing feeling among the people that they are participating in governance and their voice is being heard. The issues that mattered to the common man are beginning to be addressed. The other members of the Committee present in the meeting were Mr Ashok Bhan, Convenor, Mr Daleep Padgaonkar, Executive Editor of Times of India, Mr M G Akbar Editor-in-Chief, Asian Age, Mr Javeed Laiq, Journalist and Mr V K Grover, former Secretary in Ministry of External Affairs. The members of Kashmir Committee will meet the Governor tomorrow. Before returning to New Delhi, the Kashmir Committee will visit Purkhu camp of Kashmiri migrants. Our Srinagar Correspondent adds: Kashmir Committee chairman Ram Jethmalani today launched a frontal attack on JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik, saying, it was for the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide whether he was their friend or he was destroying them. ''It is for the people of the State to decide whether he (Malik) is their real friend or he is out to destroy them'', Jethmalani said when asked about Malik’s recent outburst in which the JKLF chairman had accused him of adopting double standards. ''Everybody has the right to say anything. The freedom of expression of which I am a votary is not only for thoughts which you like but also for thoughts which you do not like'', Jethmalani said after issuing a joint statement following a brief round of talks with separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah. When asked about his reported statement that his mission in Kashmir was to bring the emotional loyalties towards India, Jethmalani said ''it is not a war over the territory but over hearts, which India has to win.'' Asked if Hurriyat had authorised KC to go to Pakistan for talks with the Pakistan Kashmir Committee, Jethmalani asserted ''I do not need anyone’s Ikhtiyar (authorisation)''. Reading out the joint statement at Shah’s Rawalpore residence, Democratic Freedom Party leader Abdullah Tari said, to reach a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue, ''it was imperative that all concerned parties rise above traditional positions and abandon the extremists stands''. After the third round of structured dialogue yesterday, the DFP and Kashmir Committee had reiterated their commitment to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue through peaceful means. Tari said the two sides have agreed to work together in the direction of creating a conducive atmosphere for negotiated solution to Kashmir issue including the release of political prisoners. They would also seek to initiate an intra-Kashmiri dialogue across the Line of Control as well as between the Kashmir Committee in India and its counterpart in Pakistan, he said. Tari said DFP and Kashmir Committee would also try to devise a programme for speedy return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants. Both sides have decided to remain in touch to monitor the developments in these areas and have agreed to meet at a mutually convenient time, he said.