Hurriyat visit will lead to peace: Musharraf

Himalayan News Service

Islamabad, June 4:

Calling it “a great leap forward”, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf today said he was confident that the visit of separatist leaders from Kashmir would lead to peace in the region.

Speaking to reporters here, Musharraf said it was notable that the Kashmiri leaders had neither come on Indian passports nor with Pakistani visas. “This is a great leap forward ... I am confident it should lead to a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.” Musharraf’s comments came as leaders of the separatist All Party Hurriyat Conference from Jammu and Kashmir arrived here today, saying they planned to discuss peace proposals with the leaders of Pakistan.

The Hurriyat leaders arrived in the Pakistani capital a day after making an impassioned plea in the Pakistani half of the Himalayan state to give peace a chance after 15 years of insurgency. “We have brought some solid proposals that we want to share with the political leadership here,” said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, one of the top leaders of the moderate wing of the Hurriyat. His colleague, Abdul Ghani Bhat, said the delegation had come with “ideas we will discuss with Pakistani leadership and you”. But they declined to go into details. Farooq and his colleagues in the nine-member delegation reiterated their call for the participation of Kashmiris in the dialogue process. “It is also in the national interest of India and Pakistan to give this role to Kashmiris,” said Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik.

Though the leaders came by bus from Kashmir on Thursday, they did not confine themselves to “Azad Kashmir” — as the bus permit condition demands — but travelled to Islamabad.

Pervez to contest as civilian in ’07?

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has added another element to a raging debate on President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to continue in office beyond 2007, saying he would contest the general election that year as a civilian. But he also added a rider. “I have not talked to the president on this matter but it is my own opinion that he would (contest as) a civilian — if he decides to contest the next presidential election,” Kasuri told an Indian TV news channel. — HNS