Jethmalani Talks Kashmir, Geelani Talks About Weather

Jethmalani Talks Kashmir, Geelani Talks About Weather

8 August 2012
Times of India
M. Saleem Pandit

Srinagar: Noted lawyer and former Union minister Ram Jethmalani met hardline Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani over two days, but they ended up talking at cross purposes with Jethmalani wanting to discuss the Kashmir issue and Geelani choosing to talk about the weather. Geelani's cold shoulder did not deter Jethmalani, named in 2002 by then NDA government as part of the Kashmir Committee with K C Pant as the main interlocutor. Asked if there was any indication of separatists softening their stand, Jethmalani said, 'If a hardliner like Geelani sahib sits down to talk about the Kashmir problem with me, it must be seen as an indication that there is scope of compromise on certain issues from their camp.' But this wasn't a sentiment shared by Geelani whose spokesman Ayaz Akbar told TOI, 'Geelani sahib did not discuss the Kashmir issue with Jethmalani. As a matter of fact, his stand is known and it hasn't changed. He has stuck to the 1947 resolution be adopted, which is the right to self-determination.' Jethmalani chose to tom-tom the meeting, pointing out that the separatists including Geelani had refused to meet the Central interlocutors. He said he shared special moments with Geelani during which he noted a change in his hardline approach and that he was ready to make some compromises to reach a solution. 'Majority of people in J&K wants peaceful resolution and for this a compromise is inevitable,' Jethmalani said. Another separatist leader, Nayeem Khan, reminded Jethmalani that a compromise will never connote that status quo be maintained to the advantage of India. 'Kashmir issue is to be settled with all the parties on the negotiating table,' he added. Chairman of moderate Hurriyat faction, Mirwaiz Omer Farooq, disagreed with Jethmalani on the issue of talks with Hurriyat without listing Kashmir solution on the agenda. 'Concessions and personal favours won't solve the Kashmir issue without the participation of Pakistan in talks,' the Mirwaiz said. He agreed that repealing laws like AFSPA would help build trust among Kashmiris to step ahead for talks along with Pakistan.