No condition should be attached to talks: Shabir
8 January 2003
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India
New Delhi: Senior Kashmiri leader Shabir Ahmed Shah on Tuesday took strong objection to the statement by Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani that no discussions would be held with 'pro-Pakistan elements' in the state and alleged the Centre was looking for 'excuses' for not talking. 'No conditions should be attached to the talks. You have to accept the hard reality that Pakistan is a party to the Kashmir dispute,' Shah, who heads Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), told PTI in New Delhi. Pointing out that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had gone to Lahore and later invited Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to Agra for talks, he said, 'It appears from (Advani's) statement that the Government is in no mood to talk to Kashmiris and is looking for excuses because of upcoming elections in several states.' Maintaining that Kashmiris are always ready for meaningful talks,' Shah said, 'If the government is sincere, it should initiate the dialogue with an open mind.' He said a dialogue was necessary for ending tension and violence in J&K. 'Till the root cause of Kashmir problem is addressed, tension will prevail,' he said, adding that Kashmiris can give concrete proposals on resolving the issue. On the steps taken by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government in Jammu and Kashmir to help resolve the state's problems, Shah termed them as 'ad hoc' and said these would not solve the basic problem. Alleging that successive central governments had 'breached trust of the people of Jammu and Kashmir', he said New Delhi should 'change the impression by taking some sincere concrete steps.' He said the dialogue should be held with 'true representatives' of the people of the state and 'no side should come to the dialogue table with a closed mind.' He advocated that all the three parties to the dispute - - India, Pakistan and Kashmiris - adopt a 'flexible approach' to ensure a peaceful resolution. Shah, who held fifth round of discussions with the Kashmir Committee in New Delho on Monday, reposed faith in it expressing confidence that it would be able to persuade the Centre to hold meaningful talks with Kashmiris.