Indian Express

Sharif’s visit: Omar says J&K watching closely

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Hope this marks new beginning in ties: Omar Abdullah Hope this marks new beginning in ties: Omar Abdullah

With Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepting the invitation for the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi, both mainstream and separatist political organisations on Saturday welcomed the move, hoping that it will form a strong foundation for a dialogue between the two neighbours.

“Very glad to hear Pak PM has accepted invite, shows that he can prevail over forces inimical to good relations with India,” tweeted Chief Minister and working president of National Conference Omar Abdullah. “I hope this will mark a new beginning in ties between our two countries. The people of J&K will be watching closely.”

Abdullah said Sharif’s presence would be the highlight of the swearing-in ceremony. “Can’t help feel sorry for others taking oath or attending because the only photo op that will matter now will be the Modi-Sharif handshake,” he tweeted.

The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said Sharif’s acceptance of the invite would introduce “positivity” in India-Pakistan relations. The party has termed it a new beginning after the initiatives made by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

“The new beginning should lead to progress on resolution of Kashmir and other issues and the Confidence Building Measures along the Line-of-Control (LoC) need to be carried further,” said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

The moderate separatists in Kashmir too welcomed the move. “It is a positive decision,” moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said. “We understand it is just a swearing-in ceremony but a strong foundation could be laid so that a sustained dialogue process is started,” he added.

Mirwaiz said the leadership in Kashmir should also be included in the dialogue process for the resolution of Kashmir issue, but suggested that they can wait.

Though the Hurriyat hardliners don’t expect much from the meeting, they too are closely watching the developments. “The invitation to Pakistan PM is a formality,” said Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. “We have to wait and watch.”

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