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Geelani keeps away from Pakistan Day
March 24, 2005 00:49 IST
Hardline separatist leader and chairman of the breakaway faction of Hurriyat Conference Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Wednesday stayed away from the Pakistan Day for the first time since the outbreak of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Geelani had adopted a tough posture on the eve of Pakistan Day, criticising Islamabad for agreeing on a bus between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad.
This was a virtual acceptance of the Line of Control as the permanent border between the two countries, he said.
Pakistan had deputed the deputy high commissioner of its mission in Delhi, Munawar Bahhti, to placate Geelani and persuade him to attend the National Day.
After failing to get any positive response from him, Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan met Geelani on Wednesday morning, but this also did not move the pro-Pakistan leader.
Interestingly, Geelani had also asked other leaders of his Hurryiat faction not to attend the function, but several of them ignored his diktat.
Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Abdul Gani Bhat, Maulana Abbas Ansari and Bilal Lone, all of whom are considered moderates, attended the function.
Other separatist leaders, including Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yaseen Malik, Javed Mir and Shahbir Shah, were also present on the occasion.
Minister of State for External Affairs Rao Inderjit Singh represented the Indian government.