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September 7, 2000
Hurriyat leader arrives in NY to ensure Pak presence in J&K talks
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Pakistan is using all resources at its command to persuade India to come to the negotiating table on Kashmir with indications surfacing on Thursday that Islamabad is preparing the ground for foreign-secretary level talks between the two countries regarding the border state.
"India has said it will not discuss the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan until the latter stops cross-border terrorism. But we have reason to believe that (Pakistan Chief Executive) General Pervez Musharraf is using various diplomatic channels to bring India to the negotiating table after Prime Minister Vajpayee returns from his US tour," an All Party Hurriyat Conference official told rediff.com, on condition of anonymity.
He pointed out that Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Maulvi Omar Farooq, who is in charge of its foreign affairs cell, is drumming up international diplomatic support for resumption of the India-Pakistan dialogue to disentangle the Kashmir knot.
After visiting Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Farooq is now in New York to ensure that Pakistan is included in the talks between the Indian government and the Hurriyat.
Farooq is emphasising that the Indian government's move to conduct a census in Jammu and Kashmir is "fraudulent" because the Muslim population in the state during the last three census has allegedly decreased instead of increasing.
He said even Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had allegedly described the census in the state as being 'a fraud perpetrated on our people.' Former Union ministers Saifuddin Soz and Mufti Mohammed Sayeed had echoed Dr Abdullah's sentiments in this context, the official claimed.
However, an official spokesman at the ministry of external affairs contended that as pointed out by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, there is no question of India bowing down to any pressure on Kashmir.
"We get to hear all kinds of statements on Kashmir, especially in the foreign media. But our stand is well-known, that is, India will not talk to Pakistan on Kashmir until Islamabad stops cross-border terrorism," the MEA spokesman pointed out. He added that while the MEA could not prevent "fanciful" reports from appearing in the media, New Delhi is firm that the talks on Kashmir will only be held with parties who had eschewed violence.
Significantly, General Musharraf in his address to the United Nations General Assembly's Millennium Summit on Wednesday tried to offer various sops on Kashmir so that the international community could be influenced into goading India to come to the negotiating table regarding the state.
General Musharraf offered to enter into a no-war pact with India, besides a reduction of forces and denuclearisation of South Asia, subjects which are dear to western countries, especially the US.
However, he gave a taste of his country's actual intentions by calling for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and 'allow the people of Kashmir the right of self-determination.'
rediff.com has assigned Associate Editors Amberish K Diwanji and Savera R Someshwar to cover Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to the United States. Don't forget to log into rediff.com for news of this historic visit as it happens!
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