Kashmiris want India-Pakistan talks to focus on Kashmir

Srinagar, Feb 22 (IANS) Residents of Jammu and Kashmir and separatist leaders have welcomed the resumption of talks between India and Pakistan but stress that it would be incomplete unless the Kashmir issue is also discussed.

‘A dialogue between India and Pakistan is always welcome, but unless this is focused on the resolution of the Kashmir dispute, such a dialogue would remain meaningless,’ said Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group here.

Separatist leaders in the hardline Hurriyat headed by Syed Ali Geelani, however, remain cynical about the forthcoming secretary-level talks between the two countries.

‘India has been always trying to mislead the international community through such exercises, which are basically aimed to cover up human rights violations by the Indian security forces here and to delay the resolution of the Kashmir dispute,’ Syed Ali Geelani told local reporters over phone from Delhi.

The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan are set to meet in New Delhi to resume bilateral talks Feb 25. The talks are being held after a nearly 14-month freeze — since Nov 26, 2008 when terrorists attacked Mumbai.

Mainstream politicians in Kashmir are, however, hopeful that the resumption of the dialogue process would help ease tensions between the two countries and ultimately further the peace prospects in Jammu and Kashmir.

‘It is always prudent for both India and Pakistan to engage each other in a dialogue process. Peace in Kashmir can only become permanent if the two countries decide to resolve their problems through a peaceful, negotiated dialogue process,’ said a minister of the ruling National Conference here.

Muzaffar, a college teacher here, also felt the dialogue should focus on peace in Kashmir.

‘They should talk about bringing peace into our lives. We have been suffering for decades now and instead of focusing attention on peace in Kashmir, the two countries sometimes say they will talk about terrorism and sometimes say they will talk of water disputes,’ he said.

‘It is time India and Pakistan catch the bull by the horn and shun their traditional egos over Kashmir. If the two countries sincerely decide to bring permanent peace to Kashmir, it is not difficult at all,’ Muzaffar added.

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