//Hurriyat reluctant to participate in PM's roundtable

Hurriyat reluctant to participate in PM's roundtable

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 IANS

NEW DELHI: With just a week left for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's second roundtable conference in Srinagar, the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference has expressed its reluctance to participate in the meeting.

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the central government was yet to address some of its key concerns – a condition for the group's involvement in the prime minister's ambitious initiative to broaden the dialogue spectrum to resolve the Kashmir issue.

"First of all we have not got any invitation yet and nor are we aware of the agenda for the talks. And without our concerns being addressed, it seems unlikely at this point whether we will be a part of the roundtable conference," the Mirwaiz said from Srinagar.

The Mirwaiz was specifically referring to the participation of various ethnic and religious groups from Jammu and Kashmir in the proposed conference that he opposed.

"How can you have the Bakarwals (nomads) and the Dogras participating in a conference that is meant to discuss specifics to ensure an honourable, peaceful and lasting settlement of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir?" queried the Mirwaiz.

 "There are other concerns that we have which the prime minister is aware of (after being discussed) in our last meeting early this month."

However, the Mirwaiz was not completely dismissive of the roundtable and said the Hurriyat's executive council would meet on May 22 to take a final call.

Kashmir's top Islamic cleric also pointed out that New Delhi should give priority to talks with those organisations that differ with it and not with a crowd of those who already agree with it.

"Talks should be held with those who do not accept the Indian control on Kashmir. If you are going to gather a crowd of those who already agree with you, then we think that no serious talks can take place in a crowd."

Manmohan Singh has already had two rounds of discussions with the Hurriyat Conference in the last eight months but the latter had rejected his invitation for the first roundtable conference on February 25 saying the time was not ripe for such a meet.