Leaders of both separatist and mainstream parties in Jammu and Kashmir have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise visit to Lahore on Friday to meet his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
In a statement, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said he was delighted by Modi’s visit and added that the development would strengthen the bonds of friendship between the two countries and usher in an era of peace and stability in the region. “This is an evolutionary process and a step in the right direction. It indicates the Prime Minister’s resolve to enter into a long-term strategic partnership with Pakistan,” the statement said.
Mufti hoped that the meeting between the two leaders will provide the much-needed momentum to the comprehensive bilateral dialogue for peaceful resolution of all issues. “This initiative, besides being a great step towards improvement of bilateral relations, will also give impetus to the concept of SAARC,” he said.
Former J&K CM and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah also welcomed the re-engagement, but called for consistency in bilateral ties. “The re-engagement with Pakistan is a good step & a very welcome development. However more than grand gestures, we need consistency,” he tweeted. “Indo-Pak relations have been plagued by knee-jerk reactions & a lack of consistency. Looking towards two PMs to correct this time,” he added.
Separatist leader and chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani said it was good that Pakistan and India are engaging, but added that nothing would change unless the Kashmir issue is resolved.
“The real issue is Kashmir and until it is addressed, these things are meaningless. India needs to fulfil its promises. It’s good there has been change in Indo-Pak relations, but it is nothing new for us,” Geelani said.
Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq welcomed the meeting between Modi and Sharif. “Modi’s surprise visit to Pakistan is a positive move… people of Kashmir welcome any opportunity that bring India and Pakistan close.
Political will and vision needed on all sides to address issues especially Kashmir,” he said.