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JK parties, separatists for restart of talk process with Pak

June 24, 2013 17:00 IST

A day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Jammu and Kashmir, mainstream parties as well as separatists organisations were on the same page asking him to restart the dialogue process with Pakistan in finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue.

Singh will be arriving in Srinagar on Wednesday on a two-day visit during which he will inaugurate the railway tunnel connecting Banihal in Jammu region and Qazigund in Kashmir region besides laying the foundation stone for a power project in Kishtawar.

Mainstream political parties including the ruling National Conference, main Opposition PDP and separatist groups such as Hurriyat Conference have expressed their opinion for taking the opportunity of extending a hand of friendship to the new government in Pakistan.

"While we want a developmental package for the state, we would also like that the Prime Minister use the soil of Kashmir for extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan and restart the dialogue process with it," NC's provincial president Nasir Aslam told PTI.

Similar views were echoed by PDP's spokesperson Nayeem Akhter who said there was a need to revive the peace process. "Peace process needs to be revived and it was time to go beyond local issues and reach out to stake holders in the region as well as across the border," Akhter said.

He said the prime minister should send out signals from Kashmir to the new government in Pakistan which seems to be in favour of establishing permanent peace with India.

Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said instead of making this visit a customary one, the prime minister should focus on the issues pertaining to people of Kashmir and also initiate a dialogue with all the stake holders.

Asked whether he meant including Hurriyat Conference to be included in the dialogue process, the Mirwaiz said, "We are relevant and that's why we had been holding talks with central leadership till 2006-07.

"New Delhi should look Kashmir beyond the prism of development, economic and security angle...Imagine a situation where the mainstream Chief Minister (Omar Abdullah) is asking for repeal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, an army general says that there is no need. I mean what is the credibility that New Delhi is lending to its own chief minister," he asked.

He said New Delhi should work on finalising Confidence Building Measures so that the trust of Kashmiris is rebuilt. "While development, rail, water etc etc is necessary, we cannot wish away the main demand of resolving Kashmir issue."

Aslam also said his party reiterates its demand of partial withdrawal of AFSPA as put forward by Omar.

State Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saif-id-din Soz told PTI that the arrival of the Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Ganhi was welcome to the state. "Whenever the prime minister visits the Valley, hope is generated."

He said that central funds have flown into the state freely and "I am sure that the prime minister will ensure enriching the lives of the people in the state with more prosperity."

Asked whether the prime minister should initiate talks with the stake holders on Kashmir, he said, "The doors of the prime minister are always open for the talks. It is for the people and group who need to come forward and talk" without making any reference about the separatist groups who have remained away from the dialogue process.

To a question whether Kashmir soil should be used to extend an offer to Pakistan for re-starting the dialogue process on all the issues including Kashmir, Soz said "the prime minister has already welcomed the election of Nawaz Sharif and the elections in Pakistan saw no animosity with India.

"The process will take its own time and the prime minister will do what ever is best in the interest of the nation."

Communist Party of India-marxist leader and Member of Legislative Assembly Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami said "people of Kashmir expect significant intervention from the prime minister which can create confidence among Kashmiris.

"He (Singh) should also reach out to Pakistan and initiate a dialogue process with the new government there."However, among these voices, hardliners like Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yaseen Malik have given a call for hartal during the visit of the prime minister.

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