Geelani rules out taking LoC bus to Azad Kashmir
24 May 2005
Lahore: Travelling by the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service is the main hurdle in the visit of Syed Ali Geelani, chief of a faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, to Pakistan, for which he was extended invitation by Islamabad on Tuesday. The Kashmiri leader told Dawn by telephone from Srinagar on Tuesday that he also wanted “restriction-free” meetings with Pakistani leaders other than those suggested by the government. The government has also invited leaders of the APHC group led by Mirwaiz Omar Farooq on June 2. “How can we travel through the bus service which we have been opposing,” Mr Geelani said. He said his group was thinking of travelling up to the Line of Control in held Kashmir in a private vehicle and making the same arrangement on the other side to avoid using the bus service. He said the plan required permission of Indian and Pakistani authorities. He said he did not want Islamabad’s advisory on whom to meet during the visit. “We should be allowed to talk our mind in Azad Kashmir and other areas of Pakistan and hold discussions with all political forces and leaders there. “We have already met President Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and ruling party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in New Delhi and there is no sense in restricting our meetings to them while being in Islamabad,” said Mr Geelani, who is suffering from backache these days. In reply to a question, he said the two groups would travel separately. “We shall urge Islamabad to stick to United Nations resolutions while discussing the Kashmir issue with New Delhi,” he said. Mirwaiz Omar Farooq expressed complete support to President Musharraf’s approach on the Kashmir issue and said his group would carry to Islamabad its suggestions in this regard. He said he doubted that New Delhi would allow them to go across the LoC and said the Indian government feared that their visit might strengthen the Kashmiris’ demand for tripartite talks. Our New Delhi correspondent adds Kashmir’s resistance leaders said on Tuesday they would discuss an invitation by Pakistan with their followers before deciding to visit Islamabad but some leaders believed that meeting militant groups across the Line of Control would benefit the current peace moves. Mirwaiz Omar Farooq told the NDTV he wants to travel across the LoC, among other reasons, to meet militant leaders so as to bring about a unified perspective on their struggle against Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir. “Pakistan has taken the initiative of talking to us and with the Indian leadership. It is high time the government of India came up with their own proposals to resolve the issue of Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz said from Srinagar. “Our original idea was to have a trilateral dialogue involving India, Pakistan and Kashmir. But since that has not been possible, now at least we can have a triangular discussion with the same parties.” He told Dawn earlier in the day that a general council meeting of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference would be held on Wednesday to discuss the agenda for the visit to Pakistan. “When we travel to Muzaffarabad and talk to the militants there, we can look for a united point of view,” the Mirwaiz said. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik said he too had received the invitation from Pakistan.