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APHC leaders can’t go beyond PoK: govt
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
The much-trumpeted visit of Hurriyat Conference separatist leaders to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) may not take place on June 2 and whenever the visit takes place the Hurriyat leaders cannot go beyond PoK.

Sources said it was difficult to understand how the Hurriyat leaders could board the June 2 Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus when not a single leader had filled in the form for the bus journey to PoK and the RPO office in Srinagar had run out of forms in the first place.

The earliest the Hurriyat leaders can travel to PoK is June 17 by the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus and that too if the political leadership in New Delhi and the administration in Srinagar go out of their way to facilitate their travel to PoK, sources said.

They cannot even fly to Pakistan because except Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the moderate faction of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), no other Hurriyat leader holds a valid passport. The Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus journey is the only way in which a person who does not hold a passport can still travel to Pakistan.

Syed Ali Shah Gilani, the notorious pro-Pakistan hardliner among separatist leaders, is already averse to travelling to the other Kashmir by bus and has convened a meeting of his Tehreek-e-Hurriyat party’s advisory council on May 29 to decide whether Mr Gilani or some other party leaders should travel to PoK by the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus.

It takes at least a fortnight to verify the travel applications after the application forms are filled up. MEA spokesperson also made it clear today when he said in his briefing that the government would consider applications by individuals to travel by bus from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad. This would be on the basis on which members of the Hurriyat could apply for travel on the bus. The applications would be processed as per established procedures.

Foreign office spokesman today made it quite clear that the Hurriyat leaders could not go beyond PoK and if they were to do that it would violate the understanding between the governments of India and Pakistan. The spokesman said: “The government also has a clear understanding with Pakistan that passengers travelling on the bus can travel only within the territory of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir. Any travel beyond the territory would not be in keeping with the understanding between the two governments.

If any individual is traveling on the bus from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad, the very clear and explicit understanding between the Governments of India and Pakistan is that while this bus is open to the citizens of India and the citizens of Pakistan they can only travel within the territory of the erstwhile State of J and K. Anything which goes beyond this will be contrary to the understanding of the two governments. This is an explicit understanding which was reached between the two governments before the bus was started.”

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