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Pakistan asks Kashmiri separatists to unite
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February 23, 2007 00:38 IST

Pakistan on Thursday again asked warring Kashmiri separatist groups to forge unity and come on a 'common platform' in the larger interests of the 'Kashmir cause', sources said.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, who held back-to-back meetings with leaders of four separatist groups, asked the secessionists to present a united stand on Kashmir and tried to convince hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani to support the India-Pakistan peace process, they said.

"If the separatists come together on one platform, it will be easy for Pakistan to negotiate with India on Kashmir," sources quoted Kasuri.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq-led moderate Hurriyat delegation, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik, and Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Patry's Shabir Ahmed Shah, besides Geelani held extensive talks with Kasuri in Delhi at the Pakistan High Commission.

Pakistan has been making efforts since long to bring the separatists together in the 'larger interest of the Kashmir cause' but has failed time and again.

After his more than two-hour meeting, Geelani, who is a bitter critic of the India-Pakistan peace process and President Pervez Musharraf's four-point Kashmir formula, declined to talk to waiting mediapersons.

Before leaving for Delhi, the pro-Pakistan leader in Srinagar had said he will ask the Pakistani leadership not to dilute its stand on Kashmir and ensure that India 'fulfills its commitment to hold a plebiscite' in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of the United Nations resolution on the vexed issue.

Kasuri was accompanied by senior Pakistani officials, including Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik, at the talks.

This was Geelani's second meeting with a senior Pakistan functionary after his November meeting with Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, on the sidelines of the Indo-Pak foreign secretary-level dialogue.

Recently, the divide between the two factions of the Hurriyat deepened further with Mirwaiz supporting Musharraf's four-point Kashmir formula of no change in boundaries of Kashmir, making borders and the Line of Control irrelevant.

As part of the efforts, every senior Pakistani leader and official during their India visit has held talks with the separatists in New Delhi.

Geelani, who had spurned an official invitation to visit Pakistan along with other moderate Hurriyat leaders last year, has, however, shown keen interest to visit Islamabad, apparently to counter the momentum generated by Mirwaiz on Musharraf's Kashmir formula.

In January, Mirwaiz and senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Ghani Bhat, visited Pakistan for 10 days for talks with the leadership of that country on Kashmir and Musharraf's formula.

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