Friday, April 6, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Govt invites Kashmiri militants for talks
Pant to initiate dialogue * Hurriyat calls it drama
Tribune News Service and agencies

New Delhi, April 5
Declaring that Mr K.C. Pant will hold the dialogue on Kashmir issue, the government today invited Kashmiri militant organisations and the Hurriyat Conference for talks without pre-conditions.

It today took another step forward for the restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir inviting “people of goodwill” in the troubled state to come forward for a dialogue.

A three-page statement said here “the government invites people of goodwill, who desire the restoration of peace and normalcy in the state to come forward to participate in the dialogue”.

The statement expressed the hope that besides the Jammu & Kashmir Government, all political parties, non-government organisations, trade unions, social and religious bodies would participate in the dialogue.

At the same time, the government reiterated its stand saying that New Delhi was keen on a bilateral dialogue with Pakistan but hoped that Islamabad would help in its resumption by curbing cross-border terrorism and putting an end to the vicious anti-India propaganda emanating from there. But “this will be in accordance with the Simla agreement and the spirit of the Lahore declaration,” the statement said.

Almost after four months of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Ramazan ceasefire initiative, the government has taken a policy step saying that “the agenda for the dialogue briefly stated is “Peace and how it may be attained in the troubled state”. All aspects bearing on this theme will be relevant to the dialogue”.

Referring to the All-Party Hurriyat Conference stand that talks should be unconditional, the statement pointed out now that the government has agreed to hold talks in the interest of early restoration of peace, it was for the APHC to consider whether “it would not be inconsistent for them to set pre-conditions for dialogue.”

“The doors are open for them to join in the talks. The doors are also not closed for Kashmiri organisations which are currently engaged in militancy in the state but are desirous of peace,” it said.

“In order to promote a vigorous movement towards the establishment of peace and tranquility, the government has decided to embark upon a political dialogue with all sections of the peace-loving people of the state, including those who are currently outside it,” the statement said.

The dialogue for the government would be held by Mr Pant, who is Planning Commission’s Deputy Chairman, it said hoping that representatives of all walks of life from among the people of Jammu and Kashmir would be partners in the dialogue.

SRINAGAR: Meanwhile the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) today rejected as drama the government’s offer of talks with political and non-political leaders in Kashmir, saying that any peace initiative should include Pakistan.

The APHC chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, termed the offer as “another drama’’, adding that it was nothing “but another hurdle in our proposed visit to Pakistan’’

“talking to a crowd may consume years together and produce nothing... Since we want a lasting solution to this vexed problem, we cannot be a part of a dialogue which will be held for pleasure only,’’ he said.

Mr Bhat said talks aimed at resolving the Kashmir issue should essentially involve all the three parties — India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We have made it clear time and again that there could be no dialogue with New Delhi till the five-member delegation visits Pakistan for talks with the military government and leaders of the militant outfits,’’ he said.

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