Govt Now Focuses On Non-Hurriyat Leaders
14 September 2005
The Times of India
New Delhi: Serious efforts are on to take the Kashmir peace process further, bringing in top separatist leaders outside of Hurriyat Conference, including Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah and Sajjad Lone. Back-channel moves are on to get them to Delhi. Should they agree, a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely. These are among the leaders who have closely monitored the resumption of talks with the six- member Hurriyat team last week. But since they have consistently stayed away from Hurriyat, interlocutors working to bring them into the process have mooted formation of a separate group. Meanwhile, Hurriyat leaders have got down to the job. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who led the talks with the PM, has initiated the setting up of an experts' committee to devise talking points for the next meeting with the PM. Mirwaiz will be in New York next week to consult expatriate Kashmiris like Ghulam Nabi Fai and Farooq Kothwari and organisations like Kashmir Study Group. In the assessment of the Union government, a common point that has emerged among those who have joined in and the three who stayed out of last week's talks is that they want to carry the minority Pundits along, both as a political necessity and to send a positive signal to the rest of the country about their bonafides. The most difficult task, some interlocutors told TNN, is to get hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on board. This is not likely to materialise, at least in the immediate future. But Geelani may be allowed to travel.