Hurriyat team leaves on Pakistan visit
31 December 2005
Srinagar: A three-member delegation of the moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, led by its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, left for New Delhi on Saturday en route to Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) to express solidarity with the victims of the October 8 earthquake and study the progress of the peace talks. Terming the visit politically significant, the former chairman of the amalgam, Abdul Gani Bhat, said that it was a 'healthy' development at this stage. 'All the political forces in Kashmir, with different ideologies, are talking about the resolution of the Kashmir dispute... All political forces active in Kashmir, whether pro-India, pro-Pakistan or pro-Independence, are talking about resolution of the issue and this in my view is a very healthy development. 'Though we will be going there to express our sympathy to the quake victims, our visit has a political significance too, as we belong to a political forum called the All Parties Hurriyat Conference. We'll talk to the Pakistan government and leaders vis-à-vis Kashmir,' he said shortly before embarking on the fortnight-long visit. Bilal Gani Lone, son of the slain Hurriyat leader, Abdul Gani Lone, is part of the delegation. Asked if he was hopeful of progress in the composite dialogue and talks on Kashmir, Mr. Bhat said: 'In my entire political career, I've never lost hope. I'm not a pessimist. And, I do believe that a solution to the dispute will emerge once the leaders of India and Pakistan sit together and talk with purpose and seriousness.'