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'Flexibility needed to solve Kashmir issue'

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
August 05, 2003 01:01 IST
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The All Party Hurriyat Conference, headed by its newly elected chairman Maulana Abbas Ansari, and the Kashmir Committee, headed by Ram Jethmalani, on Monday called on all parties involved in the Kashmir dispute to give up their rigid stand.

Reading out a joint statement, Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Bhat said in New Delhi that times are changing and a flexible approach is needed.

"The APHC reiterated its views, shared by the Kashmir Committee, that in any dialogue that addresses the Kashmir issue all sides must abandon extremist stands and rise above traditional positions," he said.

Bhat said the APHC is open to examining ideas that will lead to a solution acceptable to India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

He said a meeting between AHPC and the Kashmir Committee would be held after three members of the Kashmir Committee return from a four-day visit to Pakistan beginning August 9.

Jethmalani and senior journalists M J Akbar and Dilip Padgaonkar are expected to visit Pakistan along with the group of parliamentarians and scribes later this week.

Asked if Hurriyat leaders will insist on visiting Pakistan, Bhat said this is not the time to rake up such issues.

Asked if the Kashmir Committee will carry a message from the APHC, he said, "No, we do not want to burden our friends with our messages. Let them go and come back with their own impressions."

No durable solution is possible unless Kashmiri Pandits are allowed to return to their homeland, Padgaonkar added.

"Violence should not be used to achieve political goals," he said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi