Need to check how Afghan pullout will impact Kashmir, says Mirwaiz Umer Farooq


When a seven-member Hurriyat delegation led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq reaches Islamabad Saturday night, their week-long dialogue with top Pakistani leadership has an agenda: "check how US pullout from Afghanistan in 2014 impacts Kashmir, how to bring the Kashmir resolution at the centre of a possible post 2014 Indo-Pak co-operation in the region and to ascertain as to how Pakistan politicians think about bringing Kashmiri leadership in its otherwise bilateral engagement with New Delhi".

In an interview with The Sunday Express hours before the flight to Pakistan, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq talked about the importance of the upcoming dialogue. Unlike previous visits by the Kashmiri leaders, this time a mist of suspicion has surrounded the aim behind the visit within Kashmir.

"Kashmir is becoming only a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan again. We think it is extremely important that we start talking. We know there isn't any way forward other than to talk," Mirwaiz said. "Elections will be taking place in Pakistan soon and we want to know how they think about Kashmir at this point in time. Pakistan says that they support the involvement of Kashmiris in the dialogue process as a party. We want to know what mechanism Pakistani leadership across the political spectrum has in mind."

"We are scheduled to meet the President (Asif Ali Zardari), Prime minister, Foreign Minister, Kashmir Affairs Minister and other top leaders in the government. We are also meeting Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan, Jamat-e-Islami leadership, Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman. We also want to meet the leadership of MQM and other political parties," he said.

Mirwaiz said that there are serious questions as to what will happen in the region after the Americans withdraw from Afghanistan. "Our friends tell us that the West would push for an Indo-Pak co-operation post 2014. We want to know how the Pakistani leadership sees it. We want to impress upon the Pak leadership to push for the resolution of Kashmir issue in the run up to 2014. We understand that the policy decisions taken around 2014 on Afghanistan will set the policy and determine the road map for at least the next 20 years in the region," Mirwaiz said. "We don't want Kashmir to be forgotten at this critical juncture. We want to ascertain how will post 2014 impact Kashmir."

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