Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

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Early this week, separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads his faction of the Hurriyat Conference, found himself in a controversy after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi made a telephone call to him.

The phone talk was taken as a gesture of provocation by Delhi and was termed as “a regressive step and is contrary to the overall perception, which the Pakistan leadership is trying to create”.

Furthermore, strongly objecting to the call, the Ministry of External Affairs summoned Pakistan’s envoy Sohail Mahmood in Delhi on Wednesday night to condemn “this latest brazen attempt to subvert India’s unity”. But Islamabad dismissed the objections, insisting there was “nothing new” in its contact with the Kashmiri separatist leadership. In a tit-for-tat like move, Pakistan summoned India’s high commissioner Ajay Bisaria on Thursday to lodge a protest over the summoning.

In Mirwaiz’s interviews with various media organisations, the content of the phone conversation has turned out to be majorly about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Qureshi has shared his concern about the human rights’ violations and killings in the valley. Qureshi has told Mirwaiz that Pakistan is trying its best to highlight these issues from various platforms, and as a gesture of empathy is going to observe Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5.

Qureshi further has told him that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has “tried his level-best to reach out to India”, like Kartarpur, offered a dialogue on Kashmir, but there has been no response. And Pakistan is very disappointed about it. Qureshi told him that they would try to reach out again to India after the Lok Sabha elections.

Hurriyat representatives, according to Mirwaiz, have been in touch with the Imran Khan administration. “We have a set-up in Muzafarabad and Islamabad. Our party representatives are there. They have been meeting and calling them. But it is first time they have officially reached out to us at the leadership level. It was the first at political level,” Mirwaiz was quoted by IANS saying.

Regretting the reaction of the Modi government about the phone call, Mirwaiz said Hurriyat Conference talking directly to Qureshi should not be an irritant to them. «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?» he asked.

Making a special mention regarding the strategies of Vajpayee government towards Jammu and Kashmir, Mirwaiz added that the NDA government not only talked to Pakistan but permitted a Hurriyat delegation to visit Islamabad . Earlier, they had met Pakistan leaders in Delhi also . “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 Kashmir was a problem and it can’t be wished away. “People are suffering; soldiers are being killed on both sides. We want an end to this suffering, to the killing of youth.”

– Muhammad Younis

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