Centre to invite Shabir Shah, Malik, Pandits for talks
15 January 2006
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: Close on the heels of the first ever talks with non-Hurriyat Conference separatist leaders, the Centre in its efforts to broaden the dialogue process on Kashmir has decided to invite Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik, Democratic Freedom Party head Shabir Ahmed Shah and Kashmiri Pandits. Well-placed sources said here that the ground work for the talks with these groups had been completed and the invites will be extended soon. 'The Government is very keen to invite all the groups to arrive on a widely accepted consensus on the resolution of the Kashmir issue,' the sources said. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with Peoples Conefernce chief Sajjad Ghani Lone here last evening. During the almost hour- long meeting, Dr Singh assured the five-member delegation that the dialogue will be made 'all inclusive' and efforts made to reach out to 'hearts and minds' of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The Prime Minister said he recognised that there were 'elements' outside the electoral process and they would be included in the peace process. The sources said the Centre, by inviting Mr Lone, had sent a strong message to the moderate Hurriyat Conference that it was not the sole representative of the Kashmiris, as is claimed by the separatist amalgam. 'The UPA Government has also sought the support of the Peoples Conference for restoration of peace and normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir,' they added. The sources said Mr Malik had met the Prime Minister here a few months ago before he went to the US for treatment. Maintaining that violence had no role in the resolution of the Kashmir issue, Mr Shah said the dialogue was the only option to resolve the 'political imbroglio'. The Kashmiri Pandits had for long accusing the Centre of ignoring their problems and not doing 'anything to address their issues'. Panun Kashmir Convenor Agnishekhar had said the peace process would be 'incomplete and futile' without the inclusion of the displaced community, 'victims of the violence in Jammu and Kashmir' The Prime Minister had held first round of talks with the moderate Hurriyat leaders here on September 5 last year.