A day after Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said that Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks with New Delhi, Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said Sunday that if “meaningful” talks are initiated, “there will be a positive response”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Mirwaiz said that they have always been ready for a meaningful dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. “We are convinced that a way out can only be achieved through talking,” he said.
“I can tell you that if meaningful talks are initiated, there will be a positive response. Dialogue is the only way and that is our consistent stand,” he said. “Hurriyat has always been in favour of talks as the means of resolution. We have not said anything new. We have always been saying this. As the most affected party with daily killings of our young, we would naturally want peaceful resolution of the issue.”
He said, “From the time when all parties came together under one umbrella to form Hurriyat, (we) have maintained and reiterated that engagement and dialogue among stakeholders is the best and most peaceful means of resolution of the Kashmir issue and not (use of) force”.
Mirwaiz also said that the “Hurriyat has engaged with both India and Pakistan in the past” and “are always ready to engage”.
His remarks came after Governor Malik, in the presence of Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar and Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh, said at an event in Srinagar Saturday that separatist Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks.
Former Chief Minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah told The Indian Express that they would welcome any initiative to break the deadlock. “The JKNC has been consistently and constantly advocating for a dialogue between the Centre and the various stakeholders in the state. We hope that the solid mandate PM Modi received will encourage him to look at treating J&K differently this time as compared to his first term.”
Stating that the iron fist in the iron glove has only served to further alienation, Abdullah said, “This policy needs to be balanced out with a willingness to engage with those who are willing to talk rather than use violence to address the issue. Though we have seen Governor Malik’s statement and Mirwaiz’s advocacy of dialogue, we’ve seen no indication from the Centre to suggest a change in approach and that is what we will be looking for in the days ahead.”
The PDP, too, supported the move. PDP leader and former member of the Mehbooba Mufti Cabinet, Naeem Akhtar said: “We have always been for dialogue, but it has to be purposeful. An opportunity was lost in 2016 but this is the only way forward, talking to all stakeholders, while J&K’s identity is preserved with regard to special status.”
He also said that with sincerity and Modi’s renewed mandate, “nothing is impossible and the PM can solve this problem once for all. The Constitution of India has enough room to provide not just what is promised but guaranteed”.
Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement president and former bureaucrat Shah Faesal said that this is “very healthy development” and expressed the hope that since the elections are now over, missing conversations can be picked up again.
“Dialogue has been a critical missing ingredient from the central government’s Kashmir policy in the last five years, and now that the present government has the benefit of hindsight, we hope that dialogue can resume now.”