January 2007 News

Mirwaiz In Delhi, But No Date With PM

17 January 2007
The Indian Express

New Delhi: The moderate Hurriyat leaders, which is in Delhi en route to Islamabad for talks in Pakistan, have to wait some more time before they get to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The leaders, who reached the capital on Monday, are scheduled to leave for Islamabad on Thursday, where they will discuss Kashmir, including their recent model of self-governance as a solution with political leaders. With Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee just back from Islamabad, the group led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq was keen to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before their Pakistan visit. However, the Centre feels it would be better to wait till the group returned from Pakistan. The separatist amalgam, which stayed away from the second round-table on Kashmir in Srinagar last year, has been pressing for a meeting with Manmohan Singh since last month. A few days ago, the Mirwaiz had been confident about a meeting on January 17. This had prompted the hardline Hurriyat faction to call for a strike in Kashmir today. However, today there were indications that the Centre was in no hurry. 'We are willing to talk to anyone who can help find a solution on Kashmir, this includes the Hurriyat. But there has to be something concrete to discuss,' a senior official said. There have been signs in the past few days that the government is keen not to lend credence to Hurriyat posturing that it is a mediator between India and Pakistan. An India-Pakistan dialogue is already on and so is the process of finding a consensus among political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. There is no need to rush through with a meeting just for the sake of it, goes the thinking. Within the state, political parties have been pushing for a dialogue with as many groups as possible, and are not necessarily confined to the moderate Hurriyat leadership led by the Mirwaiz, who visited northern Ireland as part of a Europe tour to study various models of self-governance. The Congress, which heads the ruling coalition, feels that speaking to separatist leaders should be seen as part of a three-pronged strategy that revolves around the India-Pakistan talks and the ongoing dialogue between political parties in J-K. The National Conference is of the view that the Centre should speak to separatist groups, including both Hurriyat factions and Yasin Malik, if it wants to strengthen the importance of the round-table dialogue on Kashmir. But the moderate Hurriyat faction's absence from talks should not take away from the dialogue that's already on, the party maintains.


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