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Kashmir: Advani will pass the baton to Vohra
Josy Joseph in New Delhi |
January 15, 2004 15:09 IST
Last Updated: January 15, 2004 16:22 IST
The proposed talks between Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani and the All Parties Hurriyat Conference will be mere pleasantries and presentation of each other's larger positions, but it would lead to a formal, structured dialogue involving a central team led by N N Vohra and the separatists, according to sources involved in Kashmir affairs.
The January 22 meeting at 3 pm will most likely conclude with the two sides agreeing on continuing the dialogue.
The two sides are expected to follow the path of recent India-Pakistan dialogue, insisting on not discussing contentious issues in public.
The APHC has appointed a high-powered, five-member team for the talks. The team comprises Prof Abdul Ghani Bhatt, Maulana Abbas Ansari, Bilal Ghani Lone, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Fazal Haq Qureishi.
Observers believe that the presence of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, who enjoys grassroots support in the Valley, at the talks would lend it credibility.
There is a strong political movement in Kashmir, with external prodding, to get those opposed to the moderate Hurriyat group led by Ansari to join hands with the hardline Syed Ali Shah Gheelani faction, a Kashmir watcher said.
Among those who are being persuaded to join Gheelani are Shabbir Shah, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik
of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. "We are waiting and watching. Next few days are crucial," a source said.
According to sources, after the first round of talks, the Centre will re-designate N N Vohra as its political representative for continuing the talks. Though Vohra already is Centre's interlocutor on Kashmir, his independent mission to the Valley was not successful.
If the Lok Sabha elections are held in April-May, then it is likely that the second round of negotiations involving Vohra and his team would take place only after the election process is over.
"Talks will continue whichever government comes to power," said an official confident that there is a national consensus on pursuing dialogue with the Hurriyat and other Kashmir groups.