Moderate Hurriyat Rejects PM's Invite For Round Table
20 February 2006
Srinagar: In a blow to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's initiative to broaden the dialogue spectrum to resolve Kashmir issue, moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference today rejected his invitation for a round table conference on February 25 saying the time was not ripe for such a meet. After a three-hour-long meeting of Hurriyat's Executive Council, Working Committee and General Council here, its Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq told reporters that the members had unanimously decided not to attend the conference as they felt it would 'harm' the dialogue process between the Centre and the separatist amalgam and 'is bound to create confusion'. Apparently peeved over the Centre's move to invite other seperatists groups, the Mirwaiz said, 'it will be only noise in the crowd and no discussions will take place.' The rejection of Hurriyat to attend the round table conference had left the Centre banking on little-known separatist leaders like Hashim Qureshi as a face saving. Pro-Pakistan hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was the first to spurn the offer for talks which was followed by separatist leader Shahbir Shah and JKLF Chief Yaseen Malik, who had held talks with the Prime Minister last week only. Among the voices at today's Hurriyat meet, only leaders from the Kashmir Salvation Front had opined for attending the conference saying that the amalgam should not shy away from the talks. The Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat was not against the government holding of talks with 'other people' of Jammu and Kashmir but felt that the proposed meet was 'without agenda'. The Mirwaiz said the grouping was of the opinion that time was not ripe for holding of such a conference as the talks between the 'three parties' (India, Pakistan and Kashmiris) have not made any headway or a breakthrough. 'When time comes, such a conference is imperative and that meeting should include the leadership of Jammu and Kashmir across the Line of Control apart from Indians and Pakistanis,' he said. He said the Hurriyat during first round of talks with the Prime Minister had presented some suggestions to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, he alleged, the government has neither taken any 'worthwhile' step in this regard nor taken forward the dialogue process. 'Instead, the government convened this conference without an agenda which will harm the process instead of benefitting it and create more confusion,' he said. He said Hurriyat, which has 'initiated' talks with the Prime Minister and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, was bound to extend its cooperation to the dialogue process. 'Hurriyat is bound to take the dialogue process to its logical end. In this regard, Hurriyat is ready to extend every type of cooperation for the success of the talks', he said, adding it considered dialogue as the only way to resolve this 'complicated' issue. Referring to the dialogue between the Centre and the Hurriyat, the Mirwaiz said the amalgam entered into the dialogue as per its constitution which seeks an 'honourable' solution to the issue through tripartite talks. The step was a courageous one as we jumped into the field for a peaceful solution even as some pro-freedom parties and indivduals criticised the initative and termed it as a sell out,' he said adding that the time has proved that the amalgam was 'timely and correct'.