APHC now ready for talks with India sans Pakistan
23 August 2003
Our Monitoring Desk
Lahore: Chairman All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Maulvi Abbas Ansari, has expressed his willingness to hold talks with the Indian government for finding a peaceful solution to the Jammu and Kashmir issue and maintained that the Hurriyat would not insist on its condition of a trilateral dialogue by including Pakistan, reported BBC quoting him in an interview with the Indian newspaper The Hindu. Abbas Ansari said 'The APHC has made a change in its policy by not stressing on the inclusion of Pakistan in the dialogue process.' Pakistan as a party to the dispute could be involved in the dialogue process at a later stage, he added. 'We are prepared to talk with a fresh approach and with an open mind. Let the Indian government come out with a proposal and we are prepared to talk,' he emphasised. 'A dialogue can start between the APHC and the Indian government at one level and, later, we can hold a dialogue with Pakistan. Then India and Pakistan can talk on the issue,' the APHC Chairman said. Appreciating the 'vision' of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Ansari said 'Vajpayee clearly stated that both countries have to realise the changing world order and alluded to the American aggression on Iraq. I think it was a statement coming from a person with deep understanding and sensitivity. This approach certainly needs to be carried forward. We welcome this kind of spirit.' The Hurriyat Chairman also welcomed the statement of the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed insisting on the inclusion of every section of the society in the dialogue process. On the talks with the Indian government's interlocutor, N.N. Vohra, he said 'I will not talk to him. I want the initiative coming from Vajpayee. For instance, the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1974 took a personal initiative and only at a later stage officials were involved. The Vohra initiative does not take us anywhere.' Asked about the reasons for the change in the APHC's policy, Ansari said 'We realised that the three parties to the dispute India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir cannot sit at the same table. We have to go in stages and be flexible.'