Statesman News Service
NEW DELHI, Feb. 17. — The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today held a meeting with the separatist Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief, Mr Yaseen Malik, assuring him that the Centre would like to seek a larger cross-section of public opinion to end “the period of suffering” in the state to ensure a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem.
In his first meeting with Mr Malik, Dr Singh said there was optimism and opportunity in the air about bringing lasting and permanent peace in the state.
The Prime Minister’s meeting with Mr Malik will be followed by Dr Singh’s talks with a cross-section of political parties and separatist groups from Jammu and Kashmir at a round-table conference here on 24 February. “The Prime Minister would like all men and women of goodwill in the dialogue process to end the period of suffering,” the Prime Minister’s media adviser, Mr Sanjaya Baru, said after the hour-long Manmohan-Malik meeting at the Prime Minister’s Race Course Road.
Mr Malik later said he would like the Centre to hold talks with Kashmiri separatist leaders in a another country on the lines of the negotiations being pursued by New Delhi with the Naga insurgent group, NSCN (I-M). Terming his meeting with the PM as part of a “consultation process”, Mr Malik made it clear that the peace process would become irreversible only after key militant leaders were included in the talks. “My meeting with the Central leadership today along with my general secretary Ghulam Rasool Dar is not a dialogue but just a consultation.”
The JKLF chief said the meeting had given him an opportunity to present a set of compact discs of signatures by lakhs of Jammu and Kashmir people, which contained an “honest, transparent democratic verdict of people.”