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Moderate Hurriyat keen to resume talks with govt

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
December 15, 2006 17:13 IST
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The moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq appears eager to resume dialogue with New Delhi so that their intended visit to Pakistan goes off smoothly.

"The time is ripe for talks. The political climate that is present right now is conducive and the APHC would like to hold talks first with New Delhi and then with Islamabad," said Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, former chairman and chief spokesman of the APHC in Srinagar.

Prior to professor Gani's statement, the APHC chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq welcomed the "self-rule formula proposed by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf for resolution of the over half a century dispute over Kashmir."

Defining the contours of the 'self-rule formula', Mirwaiz said, "It does not mean more internal autonomy, but total self-rule where the people of Kashmir become the masters of their own destiny."

The self-rule formula is also a topic of debate these days between the ruling People's Democratic Party and the National Conference.

The NC has blamed the PDP for 'stealing' from its autonomy documents to carve out the PDP slogan of self-rule.

Scathing attacks between the NC president Omar Abdullah and the People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti have reached a crescendo in Srinagar with the younger Abdullah threatening Mehbooba of a defamation suit unless she apologises for her remarks against him during a recent party rally in Srinagar.

Now that the separatists in the moderate APHC group have started praising the 'self-rule formula' even though they are not speaking of the PDP self-rule formula, but that of President Musharraf, the debate over self-rule is likely to get hotter even as winter temperatures in Kashmir have already plummeted to below zero degrees Celsius.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar