Leaders from Indian-administered Kashmir to hold talks in Pakistan
SRINAGAR: Leaders from Indian-administered Kashmir said Monday they would travel to Pakistan for their first talks with officials in nearly four years, a move that could revive cross-border tensions.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a leader of the moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference, said that Pakistan had invited him and other leaders who oppose India’s rule of Kashmir to several days of meetings in Islamabad next month.
“We will be meeting members of the ruling party, opposition leaders and government officials,” Farooq told news agency AFP, adding he wanted to convince all sides that “peace is impossible without resolution of Kashmir”.
According to a report by the Kashmir Media Service, Farooq said in a media interview in Srinagar that a high-level delegation of the Hurriyat Conference would visit Pakistan next month.
Farooq said that ahead of the weeklong visit commencing on December 17, the APHC leaders would meet with the Pakistani High Commissioner, Salman Bashir, his deputy, Babar Amin, and other officials in New Delhi.
Farooq said that they were scheduled to meet various political leaders apart from government functionaries and various civil society groups during their visit to Pakistan.
India suspended its peace process with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks and talks only resumed in February last year.
Both sides remain deadlocked over Kashmir, but have made some progress in less contentious subjects such as bilateral trade.
Muslim-majority Kashmir, which India and Pakistan both claim but rule in parts, has been racked by militancy since 1989 when an insurgency against Indian rule erupted.
According to some figures, around 47,000 people have died, though militant violence has been reported to have fallen in recent years.
The neighbouring countries have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region, which remains divided by the heavily militarised Line of Control.