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PM's J&K round table runs into rough weather

February 17, 2006 16:38 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's proposed round table conference on Kashmir seemed to have run into rough weather as several senior separatist leaders have rejected outright their participation in any such meet at the moment.

After Democratic Freedom Party Chief Shabir Ahmed Shah, breakaway Hurriyat Chairman and hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has declined the Centre's invitation to attend the Prime Minister's round table conference in New Delhi on February 24.

Talking to UNI, Geelani said the decision was taken as the ongoing two-year-old peace process had failed to produce the desired results.

The firebrand leader said the Union home ministry contacted him through a senior official here to formally seek his consent on participating in the proposed round table conference on Kashmir.

Geelani told the intermediary that he was dissatisfied with the progress of the ongoing peace process and that the Centre was yet to exhibit any flexibility on the Kashmir issue.

''The resolution in Parliament that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India has to be revoked for real progress in the peace process,'' he said.

The breakaway Hurriyat Chairman said for the past two years, India and Pakistan have held several meetings, and also some separatist leaders have had discussions with the both countries separately.

''But nothing changed as of today. All such exercises are futile and pointless. Therefore, we have decided against participating in the round table conference,'' Geelani said.

Earlier, Shah had rejected participation in the conference, saying the time was not conducive for holding such a meet.

In a statement here, Shah said the DFP supported any efforts to find an amicable and lasting solution to the vexed Kashmir issue.

''However, we think the time is not conducive for holding such a conference when on one hand India and Pakistan are engaged in talks announcing several confidence building measures and on the other India is separately holding dialogue with various separatist leaders,'' he added.

The DFP chief said in the absence of a joint strategy by the separatist leadership, the participation in such a round table will create nothing but confusion among the people.

He instead demanded a round table conference in which representatives of the people of both Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir would participate.


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