Blackwill Ignores Hurriyat During Kashmir Visit
5 December 2002
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, used to being sought out and consulted by visiting dignitaries, were left out in the cold by US ambassador to India Robert Blackwill during his recent visit to Jammu and Kashmir. In what was probably a first for both the Hurriyat and ambassador Blackwill, there was no meeting between the two in what has been taken as an indication of the declining significance of the APHC in Jammu and Kashmir politics. Ambassador Blackwill was in the state on a stock-taking mission and was given the red carpet treatment by the Indian Army and the administration. He was briefed in detail by senior Army officers and escorted to forward posts along the Line of Control. His itinerary did not include a meeting with any of the leaders from the APHC, a fact that has generated some interest in the state. The US ambassador again “saluted” the courage of the people for coming out to vote in the election and thereby ushering in a “new era.” This is quite a different approach from that of the Hurriyat, which till now has been insisting that the elections were fraudulent and not a reflection of the will of the people. The US was the first country, in fact, to welcome the polls in Jammu and Kashmir as free and fair, a position that it has maintained till date.