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


Mirwaiz said the visit follows an invitation of the Pakistan government. "Last time when Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar came to New Delhi. She told us that they want to invite us so that they could talk to us. We believe that we need to talk to both countries to find a way fit Kashmiris as a party. We felt there is no reason to not take this opportunity," he said.

The Hurriyat moderates' trip to Pakistan is taking place in the backdrop of a lot of criticism within Kashmir where critics have questioned the timing and accused the moderates to become "facilitators" for President Zardari to help the ruling party at the time of the elections. In fact, Hurriyat moderates were accused of being always "ready to act as proxy of Indian and Pakistan political establishment".

The leader of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been critical of the Pakistan government's current policy on Kashmir. According to spokesman for the Hurriyat (G), Geelani told Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir on Friday that Pakistan government's Kashmir policy is "not matching with the sacrifices, sentiments and aspirations of the people of Kashmir".

Mirwaiz said that the criticism of the visit is unfounded. "They are labelling talks with India a sell out. Now talks with Pakistan too are a sell out. What is the way ahead then?'' he asked. "We know there is no alternative to the dialogue."

Mirwaiz said it is a fact that India facilitated the trip by issuing passports to the members of the delegation. "We think India is acknowledging that it is a political issue at the end of the day. Their (New Delhi's) approach is military. We have been telling them that there is a lot of cynicism in Kashmir vis a viz their policies. We are telling them that how can there be a forward movement when they are not even ready to take a tiny step like removing AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act)," he said. "But if there is a slight chance to create a conducive atmosphere, we don't want to be a stumbling block."

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