January 2004 News

Synopsis of agreed points between Advani and Hurriyat leaders

22 January 2004
The Daily Times
Staff Report

NEW DELHI: An APHC delegation led by Maulana Abbas Ansari called on Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani on Thursday afternoon.The APHC group agreed with Mr Advani that the meeting was the first significant step in the dialogue process initiated by India, and that a step-by- step approach would lead to the resolution of all outstanding issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir.The APHC delegation stressed the only way forward is to ensure that all forms of violence all levels should end. Mr Advani endorsed the APHC's position that the role of the gun should be replaced by the sound of politics. The APHC delegation expressed its commitment to enlarging the dialogue process to cover the whole of Jammu and Kashmir and the concerns of all communities.After hearing the delegation, which along with Maulana Ansari also included Prof Abdul Gani Bhatt, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Bilal Ghani Lone and Fazal-ul-Haq Qureshi, the deputy Indian prime minister responded that it was Government's foremost concern to safeguard the security of all people and ensure the protection of their rights. He also agreed that a rapid review of the cases against prisoners would be undertaken. The discussions, which lasted nearly two and half hours, were amicable, free, frank and fruitful. It was agreed that the next round of discussions would take place in the later part of March.The full text of Mr Advani's press address follows'The leaders of the Hurriyat Conference met me a little while ago. I must say, the meeting has proved very a good beginning in the dialogue that has been initiated in respect of Jammu and Kashmir in so far as elements who are not part of the political process are concerned. You will all recall in August 2002, speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister [Atal Behari Vajpayee] referred to elections in Jammu and Kashmir and said it was the government of India's resolve that those elections are free and fair and that all sections of the population are encouraged to participate. We would have been happy if the Hurriyat had also participated. Some of them did, though not in the name of Hurriyat. But, skeptics and cynics who said elections may not be fair, particularly the threats to those who were participating in the elections, the fact there were attacks on candidates, despite everything, we succeeded in holding elections successfully to the satisfaction of not only the participants but the whole world. The manner in which elections took place strengthened democracy.'Mention was made in the discussions today that the faith of the people in the government of India needs to be strengthened and whatever promises are made should be fulfilled. I referred to this and told them this was a promise given by the prime minister on Independence Day, and now it was actually fulfilled. After the elections and after the change in the government when he first visited Srinagar in April 2003, the historic speech he delivered there, in which he said, 'I am once again extending hand of friendship to our neighbours across the border.' Now that has been followed up and has ultimately culminated in the joint statement from India and Pakistan in Islamabad. The climate that has been created, all of these, have contributed to a new atmosphere.'A new atmosphere in which there is a determination all round to see violence come to an end and the state move forward in so far as development is concerned. In fact, I suggested the discussions we held let a synopsis be prepared and let a synopsis be agreed. 'Participating in the meeting on behalf of the government was Shri Vohra, who has been government of India's interlocutor since after the announcement of the election results, and he was given the mandate to talk to all the elected representatives as well as others. He, as well as home secretary, were with me in the meeting. This draft was prepared by Shri Vohra, and the Hurriyat Conference leaders agreed to it.'After the meeting was over and they were about to depart a request was made by them. They said that this has been a very good meeting we would be extremely grateful, if we were given an opportunity to extend a courtesy call to the prime minister. The prime minister has agreed to meet them tomorrow evening.Joint statement or synopsis?NEW DELHI Although Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and Hurriyat leaders made a joint announcement after their meeting, they could not agree as to what name it should be given. While making the announcement, Prof Abdul Gani called it a joint statement while Mr Advani named it as an 'agreed synopsis'. The statement did not bear the signatures of the two parties. Mr Advani used the term deliberately because a joint statement would have given the Kashmiri leadership an equal status with India.


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