Pak Invitation Could Help Resolve Conflict, Says Mirwaiz
24 May 2005
Srinagar: Islamabad's invitation for Kashmiri leaders to visit Pakistan and Azad Kashmir is a first step toward talks that could resolve the long-running conflict, a Kashmiri leader said Tuesday. 'We have been saying that unless and until people of Kashmir are involved in talks there can be no resolution of the Kashmir dispute,' Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told AFP in Srinagar. 'I think the invitation is a first step in that direction (involving Kashmiri leaders in talks).' Pakistan on Monday invited the leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to make their first visit to Pakistani and Azad Kashmir. They have been asked to travel on June 2 on the next intra-Kashmir bus from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad. Farooq said he saw an 'opportunity in the talks'. 'We feel the time has come when all the Kashmiris have to sit together to formulate a united approach and the united policy,' he said. Farooq said New Delhi should have no difficulty allowing Hurriyat to make their first visit to Pakistan. 'I hope that there will be no difficulties as far as the journey is concerned from the Indian side,' he said. 'I believe the government of India itself realises the importance if Kashmiris are allowed to sit and have discussions among each other,' he said. Among the Kashmiri leaders only Farooq has a valid passport. The travel documents of others have been impounded while some have either been denied passports or have not applied for Indian passports. Farooq said his group would also like to hold talks with New Delhi later to 'give a push to the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan.' President Pervez Musharraf has said he has no objection if Hurriyat holds talks with India and Pakistan separately. Farooq said the Hurriyat members would meet today (Wednesday) to discuss the invitation.