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Mirwaiz, POK govt form working groups on J&K
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January 21, 2007 15:44 IST

Seen as a move to forge a united front of the moderates on both sides of the Line of Control to isolate the militants, the visiting moderate Hurriyat leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir government have formed two working groups to facilitate the peace process between India and Pakistan.

The decision to set up the working groups was announced during a meeting between Farooq and POK President Raja Zulqarnain and Prime Minister Sardar Atiq Ahmed Khan on Saturday.

It is not clear, however, whether the initiative is from POK government or the ruling Muslim Conference.

Without elaborating on the purpose of the working groups, a declaration said that they demanded the continuation of India-Pak peace process and the inclusion of Kashmiris in the dialogue process.

"We have decided to establish two working groups to enhance the cooperation between the Kashmiri people living on both sides of the LOC," Zulqarnain said.

Political leaders on both sides of LOC would be included in these working groups, he said.

POK opposition parties were invited to the meeting but did not turn up.

All Parties Hurriyat Conference insiders say that the working groups if supported by India and Pakistan governments could emerge as a broad forum of moderates to drum up support for the peace process and President Pervez Musharraf's proposals of demilitarisation, self governance and joint management, which were opposed by the hardline Geelani faction.

The working groups could also emerge as a forum to endorse any India-Pakistan future agreement on Kashmir on behalf of the Kashmiris if the two countries manage to take their current round of peace process to their logical conclusion, they said.

The visit of the moderate APHC delegation of Farooq, Abdul Ghani Bhutt and Bilal Ghani Lone brought to the fore the divisions between the moderates and militants but the observers said only time can tell whether the divisions were temporary or permanent.

For his part Farooq termed the next few months important due to chances of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Pakistan followed by a possible visit of Musharraf to India.

Playing down the differences between moderates and militants, he said parties who had difference of opinion on the mode of resolution of Kashmir issue would also be taken on board and the consultation process could be widened.

Indicatively, the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, Amanullah Khan and some leaders of the political parties from POK also attended the meeting.

Farooq said that he believed that progress has been made for the first time in history during last 60 years to resolve the issue. He said Musharraf's ideas to resolve Kashmir steered the process in a positive direction to work out an interim solution.

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