EU delegation meets Mirwaiz, Malik, Sajad, Mehbooba, Altaf, Beg
Srinagar, May 13: A delegation of European Union on Friday met prominent political leaders including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Sajjad Gani Lone, Mehbooba Mufti, Mian Altaf and Dr Mehboob Beg separately here.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the delegation informed him that EU was encouraging India and Pakistan to solve all the issues through dialogue.
“They were here to know about the situation in the valley. European Union is encouraging India-Pakistan dialogue behind the scene and peace in Afghanistan is very much linked to the resolution of Kashmir issue,” Mirwiaz said,
He said that there should be some facilitation from international community, if not mediation, for the resolution of Kashmir issue.
“If both countries are committed to go against extremism and find solution to issues, this is the best phase for which both countries should cooperate and address the root cause. We will welcome this,” he said. Mirwaiz was accompanied by Prof. Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Gani Lone during interaction with the envoys.
The delegation comprising Ambassador of European Union to India Daniele Smadja, Ambassador of Ireland Knneth Thompson, Ambassador of Belgium Pierre Vaesan, First Secretary EU Philipp Gross and Attache EU Anne Vaugier-Chatterge is on a visit of the state to assess the situation here.
The delegation also called on Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik at hid Maisuma residence here this morning.
“No other place in the world has so much of military concentration as Kashmir. Forces have occupied lakhs of kanals of land in Kashmir to give expansion to their camps,” Malik told them, adding that “it seemed in near future there would be no place for Kashmiris to build their residential houses in their own land.”
The Front chairman impressed upon them to use their friendly ties with India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of the state.
“The ongoing conflict has been consuming people for the past 64 years. Three generations of Kashmiri people have been embroiled in it. We do not want the coming generations to bear the brunt of conflict,” Malik said, demanding inclusion of the Kashmiri people in the dialogue and decision-making process on the Kashmir issue.
Malik asserted that Kashmiris had made a transition from violence to non-violence and a genuine political space was needed to sustain the non-violent democratic process.
The JKLF Chairman said he also took up with the visiting delegation the issue of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking probe into the death of over 115 people, including many teenagers in government forces’ firing.
The European Union delegation also called on Peoples Conference Chairman Sajad Lone at his Rawalpora residence this evening.
Sajad briefed the visiting delegation about the existing situation in Kashmir and impressed on the need to encourage moderate opinion in Kashmir.
Lone also asked the dignitaries to consider investing in the state, especially in the sectors of education and health. Sajad underlined the need to be innovative and proactive in resolving the Kashmir issue and referred to the Good Friday Accord as a model. He presented his vision document -The Achievable Nationhood- to the visiting dignitaries. The meeting was also attended by PC leader Junaid Azam Mattu.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti told the delegation that the time for ‘study or interaction’ exercises was over and Jammu and Kashmir needed concrete steps for a holistic solution in which all influential quarters must extend a helping hand.
“The political and economic problems of the state have resulted in immense sufferings for the people and it is time for solid steps to initiate a resolution process that looks beyond firefighting or patchwork approach,” she told the delegation.
Mehbooba said there was hardly any aspect of Kashmir that was unknown and any further delay in resolution effort even after numerous fact finding missions, discussions and conferences was prone to be viewed as delaying tactics by a population that suffers from a deep sense of deprivation and disempowerment. The EU, she said, could help by extending its moral influence in this enterprise of peace and conflict resolution that could impact a large portion of humanity residing in South Asia.
Expressing her confidence that the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was determined in his belief to resolve Kashmir and open a new chapter of peace and friendship with Pakistan, Mehbooba said his sincerity would need to be backed up with a combined national effort to implement that vision. She told the delegation that unless the people of the state witnessed a positive change in their lives they would continue to remain cynical of any declarations of intent.
Mehbooba said it was unfortunate that Kashmir attracted outside attention only when a situation is created in which people are forced to agitate and the administration adopts a course of confrontation. “But in patches between the bouts of trouble the issue is forgotten and taken as non existent. Unfortunately peace time has never been used to seriously pursue resolution which has made uncertainty in the region almost endemic,” she pointed out.
Referring to repeated assertion of people in democratic methods, Mehbooba said the current enthusiasm in Panchayat elections conveyed a significant message. While people wanted empowerment at grass roots level the overwhelming participation might also be their way of trying to take things into their hands directly as at state level matters had only worsened under the present dispensation, she said. “This however could be a crucial last chance for democracy if like the last assembly elections this time also the government failed to act with justice, fair play and a sense of purpose and direction,” Mehbooba cautioned.
She said PDP’s roadmap pointed to immense possibilities of growth for the state if only our traditional routes were opened to the outside world, without challenging or changing the present boundaries.
“If Europe could do away with barriers of travel and trade throughout the continent there was no reason for India, Pakistan and other neighboring countries not to do the same in the interest of their people and due to strategic location Kashmir could become an ideal meeting ground,” she informed.
She said while other regions like the Punjab and Bengal that suffered partition had more or less resolved issues of travel and trade between them, J&K was denied this opportunity.
The EU delegation also met Minister for Forests Mian Altaf Ahmad and discussed various issues pertaining to forests, environment, glaciers, water bodies especially Dal Lake.
The Minister briefed the delegation about the steps being taken by the department regarding preservation of forests, protection of environment and wildlife in the state. He informed the delegates that new and renewable energy projects have been taken with the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy on a large scale. The matter regarding hydro-electric power generation was also discussed with the delegation.
National Conference Member of Parliament from South Kashmir Dr Mehboob Beg told the delegation that expecting peaceful summer and holding of Panchayat elections shouldn’t be construed as the restoration of peace.
“The basic political issue needs to be addressed,” he told them, adding that consensus means majority will and “it doesn’t imply of taking every shade of opinion on board.”
“We can take care of the sub-regional aspirations by emulating Kargil and Leh Hill Council models. But India and Pakistan shouldn’t make Kashmiris hostage to incidents like Mumbai attacks or their internal situation,” he said, adding that restoration of full autonomy would restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
Beg apprised them roads linking Kashmir with other parts of the world before 1947 should be reopened and “Kashmiris should be compensated for the losses by both India and Pakistan due to Indus Water Treaty.”
Lastupdate on : Fri, 13 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 13 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 14 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
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