Sultan meets Omar, Radha Kumar at wedding

Sultan meets Omar, Radha Kumar at wedding

19 September 2011
The Daily Excelsior


NEW DELHI: As the Interlocutors appointed by the Government of India on Jammu and Kashmir are finalizing their report, one of the three Interlocutor, who are presently on visit to the State, Radha Kumar, this night met former 'Prime Minister' of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudhary at a wedding party in Srinagar and discussed the issue of J&K with him. This is considered to be a path breaking development after separatist leaders of the State for the last one year have been refusing to meet these Interlocutors and they managed to meet former PoK 'PM', who is also leader of ruling party in Pakistan. The Interlocutors had been trying their best to meet separatist leaders for preparing a comprehensive road map for Jammu and Kashmir but separatists time and again declined to meet them. Highly placed sources said that the meeting between Radha Kumar and Sultan was facilitated by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who also met the PoK leader at the residence of noted businessman of Kashmir, Zahoor Ahmad Watali. The close door meeting at the residence of Watali between Radha Kumar and Sultan lasted more than an hour during which they discussed the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Sources said that Sultan presented his view point on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Sultan reportedly told Radha Kumar that there should be increased people to people contact between the people of Jammu and Kashmir and PoK. 'And besides the divided families, the common people should be allowed to travel on trans-LoC bus. And the travel should be made hassle free.' Sultan has also told her that both sides should be flexible in their approach and conducive atmosphere should be created for the meaningful dialogue. He also reportedly told her that Government of Pakistan is also interested in peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir as it has been festering sore for Pakistan. But Barrister told Radha Kumar that wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir are supreme. During over one hour meeting, Radha Kumar also reportedly discussed Interlocutors' report with Sultan. Both Radha Kumar and Sultan were tightlipped over what they discussed in the meeting. Radha Kumar, after coming out of the meeting, said that she is happy for attending the marriage. And Barrister Sultan didn't divulge anything about the meeting and said that they met at the wedding party and had a general discussion. Earlier before dinner, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Sultan had one to one meeting at the residence of Zahoor Watali for about half an hour. And later both of them shared the dinning table. The main focus of both the leaders during the meeting was J&K specific Confidence Building Measure (CBMs) and creating of conducive atmosphere for meaningful dialogue on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. While sharing details of his meeting exclusively with the EXCELSIOR, Sultan said that the two leaders discussed the hassle free movement of the people along the LoC. 'We both were of the opinion that the permit system need for the travel on trans-LoC bus should be made easier and this would give people on both the sides of the LoC a chance to understand each other', he added. Sultan said that he told Omar Abdullah that political leadersí form both the sides should be allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir and PoK frequently. 'This would create conducive atmosphere for the making any headway in the dialogue process', he added. Sultan also proposed Joint Chamber of Commerce for Jammu and Kashmir and PoK so that trade along the LoC is made hassle free. Earlier, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah wanted to host lunch for the visiting former PoK PM but Sultan reportedly refused it as he didnít want to make his meeting with Omar official. Sources also said that Chief Minister wanted Sultan to be State guest, which he declined. At the wedding party, Sultan met Advisor to Chief Minister Devender Singh Rana, who invited Sultan to Jammu in the winter. Sultan accepted his invitation. Rana told him that there are lots of Mirpuris living in Jammu and Sultan said he will be happy to meet the people of his home city in Jammu. Earlier, Sultan visited Gulmarg in the morning and went for shopping in Lal Chowk area in the afternoon. Sources said chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Yasin Malik wanted to accompany him to Gulmarg but Sultan went alone. Sultan is scheduled to meet hardline Huriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani tomorrow. Before leaving for New Delhi on Wednesday, he is interacting with the media in the morning. PTI adds India and Pakistan should carry forward the positive change in their relations and shed confrontationist and military approach to settle issues between them, Chaudhary said. 'There has been a positive change in the relations between India and Pakistan and efforts should be made to carry it forward. The focus should be on reconciliation and resolution of issues including Kashmir,' he said. Chaudhury, the first senior politician from the PoK to visit Jammu and Kashmir in last six decades, said confrontationist attitude or a military approach has failed to resolve Kashmir issue in the past 64 years and will not yield any results in future as well. Appreciating Indian response to recent terror incidents, as 'mature', he, however, said the statements about existence of training camps and militants in PoK was just a diversionary tactic. 'India and Pakistan have to engage in a dialogue for resolving Kashmir issue but the leadership from both sides of Line of Control has to be involved for finding a lasting solution,' Chaudhury said. He said the people living on either side of LoC were the 'real sufferers' of the conflict, he said 'we are a flexible people. We should be allowed to interact frequently. May be we will come up with a solution that does not strengthen status quo and is also acceptable to all three parties to the dispute.' The former PoK premier said a conducive atmosphere was needed for the dialogue to succeed. 'Time has come for hammering out a solution...Not only India and Pakistan, the peace of entire south Asia is dependent on resolution of this issue,' he added.


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