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Hurriyat leaders reach PoK
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 2
About two months after the beginning of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service coupled with other confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan, a nine-member delegation of Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders crossed the LoC at Kaman bridge to enter PoK today. This being historic journey for improving relations between India and Pakistan, after the bus service had been started for the divided families, is maiden visit of the Hurriyat leaders on the invitation of Pakistan’s government.

While APHC delegation left from the party headquarters at Rajbagh, JKLF chairman, Mohammad Yaseen Malik and Mohammad Abdullah Tahiri left earlier from Malik’s Maisuma residence here this morning. Unprecedented security arrangements were made in the city and en route the 120-km-long route from here to the Kaman bridge on the occasion. This became necessary due to the indifferent attitude of militant organisations towards the Hurriyat leadership’s response to Pakistan’s invitation to visit that country. Apart from the delegation, the fifth caravan of the bus carried 20 passengers on their return journey to PoK and only six fresh passengers from here.

Hundreds of supporters of the leaders comprising the delegation converged at the party headquarters while a large number of light vehicles followed the caravan of the leaders from here to Uri. There was a delay of three hours due to heavy traffic with hundreds of supporters following the Hurriyat delegation to the LoC. It took separatist leaders nearly seven hours to cover 120-km-long distance from here to cross the Kaman bridge, time for lunch at Islamabad and formal checking near the Kaman post also included.

Though JKLF chairman, Mohammad Yaseen Malik accompanied by Mohammad Abdullah Tahiri of Shabir Ahmad Shah’s DFP, undertook the journey separately, APHC chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq heading the delegation said that the goal was the same with different approach. Shabir Ahmad Shah could not undertake the trip to Pok and Pakistan, as he was denied travel documents late last night, apparently for his “Kashmiri citizenship” cited in the application form. Earlier he had decided to go alone after the authorities had reportedly asked him to send not more than four members. But he himself was not provided with travel documents to undertake the journey. His associate, Moulana Abdullah Tahiri later joined JKLF leader, Mohammad Yaseen Malik.

The APHC delegation led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, apart from him include three other executive members, Abdul Ghani Bhat, Moulvi Abbas Ansari and Bilal Ghani Lone, and the Peoples Political Front (PPF) leader, Mr Fazal-ul-Haq Qureshi. All five members had two rounds of talks with the NDA government at the centre till early last year. The delegation also includes two party colleagues of the APHC chairman Moulvi Umar Farooq’s Awami Action Committee (AAC), Mr Mohammad Yaqoob Vakil and G.M. Bhat.

For the APHC chairman, Moulvi Umar Farooq, the champion of initiation of dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue, this is more a sentimental journey. He would be paying tributes to his grandfather, Moulvi Mohammad Yusuf Shah, who spent his life in exile on the other side of the LoC and lays buried there. He holds that dialogue which could lead to triangular and finally tripartite talks has been a long standing demand of the APHC. “The mission is to interact with the political and militant leadership on the Kashmir issue” on the other side of the LoC, he claims.

According to former APHC chairman, Abdul Ghani Bhat, the “aim is to build bridges” between the people on the two sides of the LoC. He said that the delegation was going there “with determination and a message of love”. “We want the APHC to rise as a symbol to build bridges between India and Pakistan. This would help develop congenial atmosphere so that issues get resolved through dialogue, he opines.

According to Fazal-ul-Haq Qureshi, opportunity is part of the dialogue process that the APHC had started with the Government of India. He said that dialogue with the people on the other side of the LoC, whosoever it may be, would lead to further improvement of relations and finally resolution of the Kashmir issue, pending over past 57 years. The visit may be followed by the interaction with the Government of India, he opines adding that this would help resolve the long-pending Kashmir issue. He says that the APHC was not against views of the militant organisations, but the “dialogue process is also necessary to reach a conclusion and resolve issues.


Indo-Pak talks on Kishenganga

New Delhi, June 2
Talks between India and Pakistan to resolve differences on the 330-MW Kishenganga Hydro-power project being built on the Jhelum in Jammu and Kashmir remained inconclusive as the Pakistani delegation was to return to Islamabad in view of some developments there. This was stated by Indus Water Commissioner D. K. Mehta, who is leading the Indian side. — PTI

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