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3rd roundtable on J&K today
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
With the Hurriyat Conference continuing the boycott of the third round-table conference on Jammu and Kashmir to be held here tomorrow, there are expectations that it could breathe life into what has thus far remained a dormant dialogue process to find a consensual approach to the problems of the troubled border state.

The conference to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was expected to take up the recommendations of four of the five working groups decided in May last year in Srinagar. The fifth working group tasked to dwell on the Centre-state relations and headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Saghir Ahmad has reached a deadlock.

In J and K considerable heat was being generated about a “Kashmir deal” being in the pipeline as alluded by the Pakistani leadership over the past few days. Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri had said in a recent interview that Pakistan and India were moving towards the settlement of the Kashmir issue.

The hardline Hurriyat has rejected any such deal while the moderate faction sought to keep its counsel to itself so far. Yet others like Farooq Abdullah have warned that the deal might open the “floodgates of bloodbath and never-ending human misery.”

National Conference president Omar Abdullah held firm that the discussions at the round-table conference would have to be substantive if the political aspect was taken up. He believed that the round table was premature and might remain symbolic. Stressing that the problem was political, he said discussing confidence-building measures or economic development makes no sense if this was not thrashed out.

At the same time other political parties from the state refused to write off the conference. The platform was important for mainstream parties to talk and narrow down their differences.

Communist Party of India leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami insists that autonomy is a complex issue and can take months or years for all parties to reach a consensus.

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