New Delhi's doors open for Hurriyat 'informally': Advani
28 August 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Deputy Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister L K Advani today advised the Hurriyat Conference that it should sooner than later enter into a dialogue with the Centre's Jammu & Kashmir interlocuter, N N Vohra. He, however, clarified that the Centre was not averse to initiating an informal process of talks with the separatist conglomerate. L K Advani, the Hurriyat's eyesore in the NDA government at the Centre, expressed himself at a crowded news conference here today at the conclusion of the two-day-long Inter-State Council meeting, which was presided over by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and attended by a number of Union Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers and Lt Governors of different states and Union Territories. Asked whether the Centre was now prepared to formally invite the Hurriyat for talks over the Kashmir crisis, Advani made it clear that Government of India had already assigned this specific task to Mr N N Vohra who had been meeting different cross-sections of opinion in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. 'However, if they desired to come to Delhi, Centre would have no objection to keep the door open for talks informally', Advani added. In reply to another question, Advani said that the Prime Minister's offer of talks was unchanged for those (militants) who wished to lay down arms and come forward for settlement of issues through dialogue. He suggested that no other interpretation was valid with reference to the Prime Minister's recent statements. Advani expressed dismay over the recent terrorist incidents like the blasts in Mumbai and today's Fidayeen strike in Srinagar and asserted that these were bound to negatively affect New Delhi's process of detente with Islamabad. He said that India has initiated a number of confidence building measures for improvement in relations with Pakistan after Vajpayee's Kashmir visit on April 19th this year. However, India's conditions of permanent end to cross-border terrorism and dismantling the terrorist infrastructure were prerequisites to initiating the process of formal dialogue, he said. 'The formal dialogue can't start yet. Such incidents do affect the process of understanding adversely and the neighbouring country has to realise it', Advani said. 'After all peace can come about when there is evidence of sincerity on the part of the neighbour. Peace talks will have a meaning only then .....As we have been seeking a conducive atmosphere for talks,' he told reporters accompanying him during his return from Srinagar. Asked whether the peace process has received a setback in the wake of terrorist attacks, he said on the very first day the Prime Minister made the historic offer for talks with Pakistan in Srinagar. He had also emphasised there was a need for creating a conducive atmosphere. Vajpayee had also said cross-border terrorism should stop and terrorist infrastructure that supported it there should be dismantled. Both sides had been taking some confidence-building measures like restoration of High Commissioners. 'I am sure that our neighbour would be conscious of the fact that incidents in Mumbai (on Monday) and in Srinagar will affect the whole process adversely', he told a press conference in Srinagar at the conclusion of the Inter State Council. To a question whether India would pursue the subject of Parliament resolution on claiming Pak-occupied Kashmir, he said when a formal dialogue takes place with Islamabad the issue would figure. 'Al Nasreen', the 'North Division' of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has owned responsibility for the Fidayeen attack on a hotel in Srinagar yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani said. Mr Advani told reporters that the body of one terrorist had been recovered from the spot after the encounter ended this morning. Asked whether the slain terrorist was a Pakistani, he said the involvement of LeT showed that. Asked for his reaction to the J&K Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed's refrain of opening the Uri-Rawalpindi Road, Advani said that the Centre would consider it when it came up formally. When a reporter desired to learn whether Vajpayee government was determined to liberate Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and make it a part of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir as per the existing Parliament resolution, Advani asserted that the resolution would dominate every dialogue with Pakistan. Advani said that Assembly elections, held in September last year, had proved to be a turning point in the situation in Jammu & Kashmir which had shown remarkable improvement in the last one year. He said that the world was now fully convinced that the people of Jammu & Kashmir wanted restoration of peace. 'After these free and fair elections, promised by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech last year, the World is convinced that India has the will and capacity to hold the fair democratic exercise', he said. Advani took pleasure in the fact that a large number of tourists had visited Kashmir this year and the state had also hosted grand events in Srinagar. He said that Government of India had not favoured the proposal of sending foreign observers to Jammu & Kashmir but it had invited all the embassies and told the world nations that their diplomats and journalists would be free to monitor the elections. The Deputy Prime Minister said that some people could not swallow the restoration of tranquility in Jammu & Kashmir and they were bent upon making subversive incidents like that of today's in which politician Javed Shah died alongwith his PSO and a guest. He said that Police and security forces would continue to bravely foil such attempts and infuse a sense of confidence among the people by adhering to professionalism in all operations.