Vajpayee approach sidelined: Hurriyat leaders
Moderate Hurriyat faction leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq arrvies to meet Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo: Sandeep Saxena | The Hindu
All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani arrives to meet Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photo Rajeev Bhatt | The Hindu

A day after the Centre cancelled talks with Pakistan, Hurriyat leaders said India was being “unrealistic” and “naïve” in expecting Pakistan to change its policy towards Kashmir. They accused the Modi government of breaking away from the legacy of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik met Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Tuesday, while Shabir Shah held talks on Monday.

“We were hopeful when Mr. Modi had publicly said he would follow the Vajpayee model [on Kashmir] but it seems the government has completely sidelined [Mr. Vajpayee’s approach],” Mr. Farooq said.

The meetings — according to leaders interviewed by The Hindu — were “aimed at consolidating the different voices, the way forward and how we can make a breakthrough”.

“The present dispensation is only focused on development and economic incentives and packages. They are making the same mistakes as their predecessors from the Congress did. The people [in Kashmir] predominantly want a political solution. We will ask Pakistan to continue their efforts to engage [with] India. I hope this is a temporary setback” Mr. Farooq said before heading for the meeting.

“People have been talking about the hidden agenda of the RSS [behind cancellation of talks]. If that’s the case, then we are definitely heading towards confrontation, for the whole region, nobody wants that. Our agenda is to engage with both governments,” he added.

‘It’s no ordinary dispute’

Meanwhile, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik said Kashmir was not an ordinary territorial dispute to be resolved between India and Pakistan.

“The Kashmiri people have a legitimate, legal right to be a part of any kind of negotiating settlement between India and Pakistan,” he said.

Mr. Malik said previous Prime Ministers “used to facilitate these meetings” but the new government “wants a hardline policy”.

“Indian civil society played a vital role in Kashmir by facilitating a transition from violent militancy to a non-violent democratic movement. By isolating pro-freedom leadership and choking the democratic political space, does the government want to push [the issue] back [into its] violent past?” he asked.

Asked why they had all met Mr. Basit separately, Mr. Malik said it was the Pakistan High Commission that had invited them. “We did not approach them for a meeting…they invited us,” he said.

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