January 2003 News

2003: Hurriyat Softens Stand

1 January 2003
The Indian Express

Srinagar: The Hurriyat Conference began the New Year on a positive note by expressing its willingness to talk to Delhi. Seven executive members of the conglomerate met at the Rajbagh headquarters today and expressed their willingness to talk only if ‘‘a person of top stature, who realises the fundamentals of Kashmir problem, is engaged in the composite dialogue’’. Hurriyat Conference also urged the Centre to be consistent vis-a-vis its stand on Kashmir. ‘‘If the PM (Vajpayee) is keen to solve the issue, he should himself hold parleys with us or designate some one from his office,’’ a Hurriyat leader said. ‘‘Everyone knows what happened to the committees headed by Mr Pant,’’ he added. During their four-hour meeting, Hurriyat leaders decided that the solution to the Kashmir problem can be reached through ‘‘talks and talks only’’. Hurriyat executive Moulvi Abbas Ansari said the ‘‘meeting took note of the remarks made by PM Vajpayee and Deputy PM L.K. Advani on the Kashmir issue ’’. ‘‘While the PM says Pakistan should focus on trade with India and not Kashmir, his deputy, first, wants talks with the elected representatives and then calls for not holding a dialogue with those who only voice Pakistan’s views,’’ he said. ‘‘There is also talk from Bal Thackerey who demands sacking of Ram Jethmalani (the head of Kashmir Committee),’’ he said. Ansari said only an ‘‘unwavering’’ stand can help resolve the Kashmir issue and the Hurriyat is prepared to hold talks with New Delhi and ‘‘keep Pakistan out of it in the first go’’. ‘‘If the Government of India is sincere to hold talks with Hurriyat, Pakistan can wait and join in the talks later,’’ he said.


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