VARGHESE K GEORGE
The HinduLeader of the moderate faction of Hurriyat, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq during an interview with The Hindu in Srinagar on Thursday. Photo: Nissar Ahmad
The leader of the moderate faction of Kashmiri separatist front Hurriyat, says the role of the separatists in the negotiations could be taken up at a later stage
Urging India and Pakistan to restart the stalled talks, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of the moderate faction of Kashmiri separatist front Hurriyat, said the role of the separatists in the negotiations could be taken up at a later stage.
“It does not matter to us whether or not we are involved in the very beginning,” the Mirwaiz told The Hindu in an exclusive interview. The Modi government had called off talks with Pakistan, objecting to its high commissioner in Delhi meeting with separatist leaders, including the Mirwaiz. The Mirwaiz’s position could help India and Pakistan to restart talks. The Mirwaiz answered questions on the ongoing elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Modi government’s Kashmir policy and Indo-Pak relations.
“If they don’t talk and the problem gets prolonged, we are the ones at loss. For the Hurriyat, we want to be seen as contributors, not as spoilers. So it doesn’t matter to us whether the Pakistanis talk to us later, or in the beginning. It does not matter to us, as long as we are in the loop. We want to talk to both New Delhi and Islamabad, but now we would urge them to start talking, and offer our full support to the process,” the separatist leader said.
Asked whether he would be fine even if Pakistan did not talk to Hurriyat before it talked to India, he replied. “Exactly. We are happy with it. The whole idea of Hurriyat meeting the Pakistanis is not to present our point of view, it is also give strength to the whole process. It gives credibility to the whole process. May be we are not directly involved at this stage, but eventually we would like to be involved. As part of a tripartite or whatever mechanism one would call it, where everyone is talking to everyone. But if India and Pakistan can make the start, we support that.”
The Mirwaiz said he was saddened that the Hurriyat was seen as spoiler in India-Pakistan relations. He said closer relations between India and Pakistan were essential for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and Hurriyat’s meeting with Pakistani interlocutors have never been to present its views only. “We want to contribute to the process in a wholesome way,” he said.
The separatist leader was, however, critical of the Modi government’s Kashmir policy that he is still “waiting and watching.” “New Delhi wants to quarantine the Hurriyat and shrink the space for peaceful resistance.”