Hurriyat Ready To Invite PM To Kashmir For Talks
12 July 2005
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Disappointed over not getting an invitation from the Centre for resuming the stalled dialogue, the moderate Hurriyat Conference today said it will invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to hold talks with the amalgam leaders in Kashmir, if he so desired. 'We are ready to hold talks with the Prime Minister. We have said it several times, but the date and venue for the dialogue has to be conveyed by the Government of India,' Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told reporters here. He said the Centre, in any way, has to convey the date and venue for talks with the Hurriyat leaders. 'The onus is on the Government of India. If Prime Minister wants to come to Kashmir and talk to us, we are even ready to extend an invitation to him. If he wants talks to be held in New Delhi, we are ready for that also. And for that New Delhi has to convey date and venue to us,' the Mirwaiz said. He was reacting to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil's statement that no fresh invitation will be extended to the Hurriyat Conference. Mirwaiz Farooq said the dialogue with the present UPA Government will be held on the same grounds as were with the previous NDA regime. The talks should be held to find a permanent resolution of the Kashmir issue, outside the Indian Constitution and through tripartite approach to the vexed problem involving the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he added. The Hurriyat chairman said time has come for India to show seriousness and make efforts to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the State. 'It should also demonstrate seriousness in resuming the stalled talks with the Hurriyat Conference. We support the dialogue process aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue. We have conveyed our resolve in Pakistan as well,' he added. 'We have expressed our desire to hold talks with Prime Minister Singh. Whenever India is ready to talk to us...We are ready and there is no laxity on our part in this regard,' Mirwaiz Farooq said. The Hurriyat leaders have so far held two rounds of talks with the previous BJP-led NDA Government. The dialogue process was discontinued after the UPA led by the Congress, assumed power at the Centre in May 2004. Earlier this year, the moderate Hurriyat leaders had refused to meet the Prime Minister, saying they would like to meet Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf first. The amalgam also demanded that its leaders be allowed to visit Pakistan and PoK before resuming talks with India. The Hurriyat leaders then met President Musharraf in New Delhi on April 17 during his three-day visit to India. New Delhi finally fulfilled the desire of the Hurriyat leaders when it allowed them to board the June 2 Srinagar- Muzaffarabad bus. About the talks with the Kashmiri Pandits, the Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat Conference will hold its first ever meeting with leaders of the displaced community here on July 19. The Hurriyat chairman said the meeting will discuss among other issues the safe return of the Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. 'It is an important development. Kashmiri Pandits are part and parcel of Kashmir...Its culture and tradition. We will also sit and discuss the ways and means to resolve the Kashmir issue besides other problems faced by us,' he added. The return of the Kashmiri Pandits is a humanitarian issue, the Mirwaiz said, adding the Hurriyat Conference has always favoured their return to their homes in Kashmir. A deputation of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits had called on Mirwaiz Farooq on July 5 and agreed to meet on July 19. The meeting is expected to be attended by senior leaders of various Kashmiri Pandit organisations. However, the move suffered an initial setback when two prominent Kashmiri Pandit outfits - the Panun Kashmir and the All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference - refused to attend the meeting. The Panun Kashmir described as a 'stunt' the moderate Hurriyat's decision to hold talks with the displaced community, saying the separatist amalgam is trying to 'project' a secular image under pressure from Pakistan. Earlier, the Hurriyat Conference held an extra-ordinary meeting of its executive council, working committee and general council tomorrow to chalk out the programme for the 'martyrs' day' on July 13 at its Rajbagh headquarters here. The moderate amalgam has also called for a complete strike tomorrow. The joint meeting also paid tributes to the July 13 martyrs and offered prayers. The Hurriyat leaders - Mirwaiz Farooq, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari and Javed Mir - later visited the martyr's graveyard in the downtown city and offered prayers.