Testing Positive, Hurriyat-PoK Seminar Begins
11 December 2004
The Indian Express
Kathmandu: The leaders and stake-holders from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and Pak-occupied Kashmir sat in a closed-door exercise to explore a long- term resolution to the Kashmir conflict here. The three-day exercise, brokered by the Rome-based Pugwash-the 1995 Nobel Peace prize winner-began with all three sides expressing the need to shed their 'rigid mindset.' 'We have been able to get people from both sides of the Line of control for the first time. During the first two hours, we discussed the model of discussion in a quiet manner. We will respect all participants' views. At the end of it, we will establish a channel of communication for the process to continue,' Pughwash's Paulo Cotta Ramusino told The Sunday Express. The session will look into three key aspects: how to promote intra-Kashmir dialogue, immediate confidence-building measures and chart out steps towards peaceful resolution of the problem. This meet was almost cancelled as the host country did not want to run the risk of earning the wrath of India and Pakistan but yielded at the last minute as both India and Pakistan said they had no objection to such a meeting taking place in Nepal. In fact, the local administration had already moved towards stalling the meet but both embassies informed the government that they had no objection. 'We will be very happy to be of any help as a neutral venue for such peace initiatives which, if they succeed, will be the biggest event in the South Asia Region,' Prakash S Mahat, Nepal's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, Sajjad Lone and Abdullah Tari are among those who have arrived to participate from Jammu and Kashmir while hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani backed out at the last minute. Sardar Atiq Khan, President of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim conference, Khalid Abraham Khan, J&K People's Party leader Barrister Sultan, former PoK Prime Minister are among those who have already arrived. 'We all are keen to send a very positive message to the world outside about this conference. We know we have major differences and that's why we are here,' Bhim Singh, leader of the J&K Panthers' Party said.