Tuesday, August 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Hurriyat ready for talks
Tribune News Service and agencies

From right to left, Moulvi Abbas Ansari, Sheikh Ali Mohammed, Abdul Ghani Bhat (chairman) and Javid Mir, executive members of the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference, pray during their general council meeting in Srinagar, on Monday.— Reuters

Srinagar, August 12
The Hurriyat Conference here today decided to take part in talks “based on principles” with the recently constituted Kashmir Committee headed by former Union Law Minister, Ram Jethmalani.

This decision was taken by a meeting of the APHC’s general council which endorsed the views of the seven-member Hurriyat executive committee which met on Saturday.

Announcing the decision after four-hour-long meeting of the 23-party members general council of the conglomeration, the Chairman, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat told mediapersons that the principles include “tripartite talks and non-participation in elections”. He added that the talks “should produce a result and that we should work for the betterment of people in India and Pakistan”.

When asked as to why the Hurriyat Conference had rejected talks with the Centre’s interlocutor, Mr K. C. Pant last year, Mr Bhat pointed out that there was vast difference between the two. Mr Bhat further clarified that the APHC would take up the matter regarding the authenticity of the Kashmir Committee at a later stage. “The Kashmir Committee was constituted first and then Mr Jethmalani had a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani”, Mr Bhat said adding that did not it mean the committee was nominated by the Centre.

Referring to the elections, Mr Bhat said that the APHC stand was quite clear. “The chapter of elections is closed long back... we are for non-participation in elections”, he said adding that the people knew “quite clearly what we mean by the non-participation”.

Unlike in the past, the Hurriyat Conference has not issued any boycott call for the forthcoming Assembly elections. It had called for boycotting all Lok Sabha and Assembly elections held in Jammu and Kashmir since 1996.

Taking a strong note of the controversial issue of ‘coercion’ in making of electoral photo identity cards, Mr Bhat said that a strike would be called to protest against the issue. He, however, did not elaborate.

The Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party also decided to hold talks with the Kashmir Committee headed by Ram Jethmalani but ruled out participation in the coming Assembly elections in the state.



Jethmalani panel pins hope on I-Day speech
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
The Kashmir Committee, headed by Ram Jethmalani, today hoped that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Independence Day speech would have "significant reference" to the elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

The committee, which today met National Conference president and Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah, indicated that it would visit Srinagar soon to carry forward talks with various political groups.

Mr Geoffery R. Pyatt, Minister Counsellor (Political) in the US embassy in New Delhi, was present at Mr Jethmalani’s residence when committee members met Mr Abdullah. Imposition of President's rule in the state before the elections was among the issues that figured in the talks.

Describing the elections as "historic," Mr Jethmalani hoped these would be fair. He said the international community was taking great interest in the elections and if India succeeded in making a difference, it would go a long way in solving the problem with Pakistan.

Mr Jethmalani said during their visit to Srinagar, the committee members would try and convince the people of Jammu and Kashmir to take full advantage of the elections.

Asked about the Hurriyat Conference’s decision of not taking part in the elections, Mr Jethmalani hoped that the 23-party amalgamation would show more flexibility. He said the committee would continue efforts towards securing participation of the Hurriyat Conference and other political parties in the elections.


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