External Affairs Ministry terms it a bad idea

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Tuesday met the leaderships of the two factions of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference soon after her arrival in the capital for her ministerial engagement with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Wednesday.

Meeting both factions separately, Ms. Khar reiterated Pakistan's “principled” position on Jammu and Kashmir which was based on the realisation by the Kashmiri people of their right to self-determination.

The Pakistan Foreign Office described the meetings as part of the Foreign Minister's consultations with the Kashmiri leadership before her meeting with Mr. Krishna. Ms. Khar had met the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik in Lahore on Monday.

But the External Affairs Ministry termed the meetings a “bad idea,” though official sources said the meetings between Pakistani senior officials and Kashmiri separatist leaders on the eve of the India-Pakistan talks had acquired routine overtones.

“They are the caregivers for the Hurriyat,” admitted the sources and added, “they need to tell the Hurriyat to talk the language of peace, sanity and reconciliation. Goading the Hurriyat to espouse the cause they have been espousing will hardly help improve Indo-Pak ties or help resolve issues like Jammu & Kashmir.”

While the Hurriyat hardliners' leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was accompanied by Ayaz Akbar and Shafi Reshi, the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq group included, besides him, Abdul Ghani Bhat, Aga Syed Hassan Badgami, Bilal Ghani Lone, Mukhtia Ahmed Waza, Musadiq Adil and Muhammad Abdullah Tarri.

Speaking to media after the talks, Mr. Geelani said the Kashmiris appreciated the support given by Pakistan to them. “The Kashmiris seek resolution to the Jammu and Kashmir dispute through the exercise of their right to self-determination. The Kashmiri youth in particular is committed to carrying forward this just cause and hold high the banner of justice for the Kashmiris.”The Mirwaiz and other Kashmiri leaders appreciated the political, diplomatic and moral support given by Pakistan to the Kashmiri cause. On Monday, Mr. Malik had welcomed the confidence-building measures that were already in place — saying they had created a healthy atmosphere in Kashmir — but expressed concern at the non-inclusion of Kashmiris in the Indo-Pakistan dialogue on their fate.

On Wednesday, Ms. Khar will open her engagements with her meeting with Mr. Krishna, which will be followed by lunch. In the afternoon, she will call on Leader of the Opposition (Lok Sabha) Sushma Swaraj, then meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Ms. Khar will host a dinner and emplane for Pakistan the next day.