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August 18, 2000
Hurriyat puts forth new proposal
Hurriyat chief Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat has offered a new formula -- to form two groups of Hurriyat leaders for holding talks separately with Indian and Pakistani governments to hammer out a solution to the Kashmir problem.
''The seven-member executive committee of the Hurriyat proposes to break into two groups. The bigger group of four will talk to leaders in New Delhi and the smaller one to the leaders in Islamabad. I trust this can take shape,'' Prof Ghani told tehelka.com in an interview in New Delhi.
Strongly urging the two countries to accept the offer, he said it would generate a proper political climate and the tension would ease. India and Pakistan will be able to understand Kashmiris better. ''There are possibilities that everyone joins hands together and gets out of this rut forever. If we break into two groups, the two countries will not be talking to the Hurriyat on a bipartite or tripartite basis.''
On the response to the offer, he said the proposal was made informally and so far the Centre had not responded.
Expressing hope for a way out, he said that India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir should sit together and engage in positive political thinking, activity and planning. ''To preserve nuclear peace, you cannot talk in a vacuum, much less establish it in war.''
Bhat admitted that there had been occasional informal interaction with ''individuals from Delhi''. The government had not been talking to them formally although it had expressed its intention to talk informally.
''...Back channel or track II talks are on. A quiet political exercise is being undertaken... What is needed is a sincere effort to improve relations between India and Pakistan. Build bridges of understanding and goodwill for the resolution of disputes.''
He blamed the leaderships in both countries for messing up the situation while their peoples shared everything -- history, geography, culture ''and may be future too.''
''But such people are not heard. People who matter... Don't listen and come forward.''
He supported the Indian Government's assertion that peace and guns cannot go together, but said that to silence guns talks were essential. ''I had said that India, Pakistan and representatives of Kashmiris (Hurriyat) in a joint statement should just say one thing - cease fire. If that is done, the cease-fire will hold. But when a group is involved, it may not work.''
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