Following the meeting with Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Dr Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik stressed that the visit was in a personal capacity. The country’s envoy to India has also clarified that Norway is not mediating in the Kashmir conflict and its government has no official role to play in it.
“When a former Prime Minister visits a foreign country, the concerned mission is aware of the visit. The Norwegian government was not involved officially in his meetings. The former Prime Minister runs a ‘peace centre’ and he made the visit in a personal capacity. We have no more knowledge about the purpose of his visit,” Ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvag told The Tribune.
Bondevik, who heads the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, in a surprise visit to the Valley on November 23, met Kashmir’s Joint Resistance Leadership. After a brief stopover in Delhi on his way back, Bondevik also met the president of Pakistan-administered Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan and was received by top Pakistani leaders, including Foreign Minister SM Qureshi, the report mentioned.
Political opposition in Kashmir raised eyebrows, asking if the Modi government had sought any mediation from Bondevik or Norway.
The Norwegian Embassy in Delhi clarified that the Oslo Center worked in partnership with the Art of Living and Bondevik himself had said he was invited by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar to visit the volatile Valley. Incidentally, Kamsvag was in Goa for a conference and did not meet Bondevik. The longest-serving former Norwegian PM mediated previously between Colombo and Tamil Tigers during the Sri Lankan civil war.
The report further said, India is opposed to any third party or foreign intervention in the Kashmir and maintains it must be resolved bilaterally with Pakistan. Foreign envoys posted in Delhi travel to Kashmir based on prior clearances and have avoided meeting separatists for many years now.
Stressing the need to break the ice between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told The Tribune, “The Oslo Center has done work in many conflict situations. India and Pakistan must not be averse to looking at the role of a third party, which is non-partisan,” The Tribune reported.