Riaz Urges Separatists To Unite For Kashmir
14 November 2006
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: In another effort to unite the divided Kashmiri separatist leadership, visiting Pakistani foreign secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan on Tuesday asked the separatist leaders to be 'at least' united towards the Kashmir cause. But it is unlikely that Khan's appeal found any takers amongst the separatists. Khan met the leaders at four meetings, back-to-back, through Tuesday evening. Asking the separatist leaders to forge a unity or at least speak for the , same cause, is understood to have been a common point at all the engagements. Jammu and Kashmir Demo cratic Freedom Party president Shabbir Ahmad Shah was the first to meet Khan, followed by a delegation of the moderate Hurriyat led by Prof Abdul Ghani Bhatt, the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali shah Geelani, and lastly with Yasin Malik. , Shah proposed a joint working group comprising Kashmiri leaders to hold talks with India and Pakistan. An indicator of how deep the differences ran were visible when Geelani preferred to wait outside till Khan's meeting with the moderate faction led by Bhatt was over. Geelani is understood to have pushed for 'plebiscite' rather than self-rule.