Mirwaiz Meets Nawaz, PoK Leader During Saudi Visit
22 September 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Kashmir's moderate separatist leader and chief Muslim cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has held separate meetings with ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, former head of the government in Pakistan- occupied Kashmir Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan and the Grand Imam of the holy mosque at Mecca to discuss Kashmir and the issues facing the Muslim community across the world. The mirwaiz, according to his Awami Action Committee sources here, is in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah - pilgrimage to Mecca on days other than the Haj time - and pay obeisance at Prophet Mohammed's mausoleum at Medina. He flew to Jeddah last week, days after the Centre restored his passport. The passport was reportedly impounded after he allegedly indulged in activities abroad considered inimical to India's interests. Official sources here said that the passports of some other separatist leaders are also being restored and those who have applied for it may be obliged too. Hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has also written a letter to minister for external affairs K. Natwar Singh, saying he is planning to visit holy cities in Saudi Arabia, and should be issued a passport. J&K chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed is learnt to have advocated the lifting of travel restrictions imposed on several separatist leaders. He is even not averse to the idea of allowing moderate Hurriyat leaders to visit Pakistan, which they insist would be part of their efforts to seek an amicable solution to the Kashmir issue. Meanwhile, a Kashmir EU Week is being observed in the European Parliament in Brussels from October 11. The organisers have invited the mirwaiz and some other Kashmiri leaders to participate in the event.