After releasing passports and issuing travel documents to some separatist leaders, the Government of India seems to be clearing the decks for a Hurriyat delegation’s Pakistan visit from December 15.

Sources in the Hurriyat Conference faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq disclosed to The Hindu that the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi had given its green signal to a separatist delegation’s Pakistan visit, which was being scheduled between December 15th and 22nd. “Authorities in Srinagar have been directed to release passports of one-year validity and some other travel documents to the Hurriyat leaders who had applied for that,” a senior separatist leader said. He claimed that Maulvi Abbas Ansari and Mussadiq Adil had received their documents, while that Mukhtara Waza, Shabir Shah and Maulana Abdullah Tari were being processed, and were expected to be released by Wednesday.

Regional Passport Officer, Firdaus Iqbal, was, however, unreachable for confirmation. Officials at a section asserted that such decisions had always been taken by the higher authorities in New Delhi. “After getting a communication, we won’t waste a minute to release the documents,” said an official. He added that in normal course, passports or permits for a cross-LoC visit couldn’t be issued to the separatist leaders, as all of them were in negative territory and banned from travelling outside the country without necessary clearance from the Police and the CID.

According to the Hurriyat sources, Shabir Shah and his confidante Maulana Tari had always been against travelling to Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir on an Indian Passport, as they had categorically refused to register “Indian Nationality” in their passport forms. This time, too, both were reportedly stressing that the Hurriyat delegation should go and return on permit via Uri on the LoC. However, the Ministry of External Affairs’ condition was that the Hurriyat should travel by a Delhi-Lahore-Islamabad flight.

Mirwaiz Hurriyat sources asserted that their Pakistan visit was “very important for our freedom struggle”. They claimed that the ruling establishment in Pakistan wasn’t going to get any electoral benefit out of it. Hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani had last week turned down Islamabad’s invitation with the argument that the incumbent government could exploit the visit for its electoral profits.

Keywords: Pakistan visit