Pakistan May Junk Kashmir Issue Temporarily

Pakistan May Junk Kashmir Issue Temporarily

26 February 2012
Times of India
M.Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: The Pakistani establishment, in a bid to carry forward its peace plan on Kashmir in the wake of internal crisis in that country, has invited leaders of both the factions of All-Party Hurriyat Conference to Islamabad for talks to explain its 'changed position' on Kashmir. A source close to the Hurriyat said there is a move to shelve the Kashmir issue 'for the time being' in the wake of internal political crisis in Pakistan. Pakistan's high commissioner in New Delhi, Shahid Malik, accompanied by a few other diplomatic staff, drove to hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's winter address in Delhi on Saturday and handed him an invitation letter from foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar. Malik has already invited the chairman of the moderate wing of the Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, along with Shabir Shah and Nayeem Khan, to Pakistan, for talks on its change perception on Kashmir. Geelani's spokesman Ayaz Akbar said the Pakistani diplomats visited the Hurriyat leader in Delhi and Geelani told Malik that he will speak to his colleagues and let the Pakistan government know about his decision. Incidentally, Geelani has never visited any foreign country accept Saudi Arabia where he went for Haj. Foreign ministry sources in New Delhi said Geelani will be issued a passport if he applies for it in view of the invitation by the Pakistani government. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who arrived here on Sunday, said he would leave for New Delhi again in a week for another round of talks with Pakistani diplomats at the Pakistani embassy. Earlier on Saturday, second level Hurriyat leaders including Shabir Shah, Nayeem Khan, Molvi Agha Hassan and Shahid-ul-Islam held a round of talks with high commissioner Malik. This was their second meeting in less than a week, Nayeem Khan told TOI. 'We had a healthy discussion on the Kashmir issue and our proposed Pakistan visit,' Khan added. Shabir Shah, while expressing satisfaction over the outcome of the meeting, said, 'The Pakistani leaders reiterated their moral, political and logistical support to the Kashmir cause.' He said that Pakistani diplomats and politicians said they are eagerly awaiting them in Islamabad for further talks.