Wajahat Prepares Ground For PM's Valley Visit
19 October 2004
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: HE IS apparently here to monitor the schemes under Prime Minister's employment package, but the secretary to the union Ministry of Textiles, Wajahat Habibullah, is now engaged in a different task.Habibullah, who arrived here on Monday, held a meeting with Democratic Freedom Party chief Shabir Ahmad Shah today and sought appointment with Syed Ali Gilani, the head of hard line Hurriyat faction. Meeting with JKLF chief Yasin Malik is also reported to be on his agenda. Informed sources said Wajahat is on a mission to woo those separatist leaders for talks with the Central government, who were ignored by the previous NDA government. He is also persuading the moderate faction of the Hurriyat, led by Mirwaiz Ummer Farooq now, to restart the dialogue process that had broken after the NDA's defeat and advent of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre. Sources said the exercise is aimed at winning over the separatist for talks before Prime Minister Dr Manmohan's Singh's visit to the Valley. The Prime Minister is likely to visit the Valley by the end of this month. If the separatists show their readiness for talks, Dr Manmohan Singh is likely to make a public offer for talks with them during his visit, sources said. Habib telephoned Gilani late on Monday night, but could not talk to him, as the latter was asleep. This morning he again rang up Gilani and sought a meeting with him. Sources close to the hard line leader said Gilani did not reject the request outright, but asked him to wait, as 'I will have to consult my colleagues'. Gilani, sources said, has called the meeting of Majlis-e-Shoora (Advisory Council), apex decision-making body of his Hurriyat faction, on Thursday to discuss and decide about the matter. The union secretary is also reported to have approached JKLF chief Mohammad Yasin Malik. Yasin is in Jammu to attend a court case on Wednesday, and would return on Thursday. Sources said Wajahat is delaying his return to the capital, and would leave only after meeting the separatist leaders. Meanwhile, Wajahat had a 90-minute long meeting with Shabir Ahmad Shah today. Sources said that even as Shabir did not appear averse to talks, he expressed serious reservations about the intentions of the Central government. He is reported to have told the union secretary that the UPA government lacked a coherent policy on Kashmir and was talking in different tunes. Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz has also called a meeting of its constituents on Wednesday to decide about the meeting with Wajahat.