India is openly blocking Pakistan governments efforts to engage with Kashmiri separatist leaders and has very strongly taken up with the UK the issue of a proposed conference on Kashmir. The conference has been planned in London and is scheduled to be addressed by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday that India was expecting the British Government to address its concerns on the issue. He further added that the conference was “very clearly” intended to undermine unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. It is learned that the conference will be held inside the British Parliament complex on February 4.
Earlier, Hurriyat Conference Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had a telephone conversation with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. It was first official contact from the Imran Khan administration, the Kashmiri separatist leader said adding that it was at the “political and leadership level”. He further said that they told him that Kashmir issue cannot be solved unless India and Pakistan come close to each other.
In an interview with IANS, Farooq also said that Hurriyat wants an end to violence in Kashmir and dialogue was the only way forward. He said Modi government’s objections to his phone conversation with Qureshi on Tuesday may have a link to the impending Lok Sabha elections.
The unusual phone call by Qureshi on Tuesday elicited a strong reaction from the Indian government which termed it “a regressive step and is contrary to the overall perception, which the Pakistan leadership is trying to create”.
Farooq said that Hurriyat representatives have been in touch with the Imran Khan administration.
“We have a set-up in Muzaffarabad and Islamabad. Our party representatives are there. They have been meeting them and calling them. But it is the first time they have officially reached out to us at the leadership level. It was the first at the political level,” he said.
Farooq said Qureshi told him that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan “tried his level best to reach out to India” but there was no response.
“He (Qureshi) said Pakistan is very disappointed that Imran Khan made a lot of efforts to reach out to the Government of India, we took initiatives, we did Kartarpur, offered a dialogue on Kashmir but there was no response and a negative response,” .
The Hurriyat Conference leader said Qureshi also told him that they were concerned about the situation in Kashmir and wanted a peaceful solution to the problem.
“He (Qureshi) said that we want to engage, but India was not responding and we are concerned about the situation in Kashmir, we want a peaceful solution for the problem and we will work for that.” Qureshi, he said, told them that they will try to reach out again to India after the Lok Sabha elections.
“We also told him that interest of Hurriyat is also that the two countries come close. Till then the our problem will also not be solved,” he said. Farooq said Hurriyat Conference talking directly to Qureshi should not be an irritant to the Modi government. “We fail to understand (why) the BJP government is making so much noise on the meeting. Unless three parties talk to each other, how will a solution emerge?”
“There is no other option. We have to engage with each other and find a solution. That is exactly what Vajpayee understood when he said that we will resolve it in the ambit of humanity,” he said.
Farooq said that Vajpayee government not only talked to Pakistan but permitted a Hurriyat delegation to go the neighbouring country and they had met Pakistan leaders in Delhi earlier.
He said Kashmir was a problem and it cannot be wished it away. “People are suffering; soldiers are being killed on both sides. We want an end to this suffering, to the killing of youth.”
He said educated people were taking up guns and four youths in the Valley who were students had gone missing on Thursday and had probably gone to militant camps.
“If we have to solve it, we have to begin addressing the problems. It will not be solved by abusing, sidelining Hurriyat. At least you have a political platform (for) talks.”
He said Modi government’s approach to Kashmir has been one from the military standpoint.
“They are not engaging with people. He (Modi) came many times and talked of ‘insaniyat’, Kashmiriyat and ‘jamhooriyat’ but the fact is New Delhi is talking to people of Kashmir through the barrel of the gun. That is the biggest reality in Kashmir. It is a big issue.”
“We said we wanted to be a bridge of friendship between the people of two countries as we know that the solution will not be found till the two countries come close.
“If Hurriyat Conference also wants to play a role in this, why is it an irritant? They should welcome if we can play a role in ending violence and bringing the two countries together. He said Kashmir issue should not be linked to “vote bank politics” in the Lok Sabha elections. “Now there are elections. To get votes, they will perhaps go to any extent. It will be unfortunate if Kashmir is linked to vote politics rather than looking at it form a humanitarian and political angle,” Farooq said. Source: Agencies