LAHORE (ASHRAF JAVED ) – Islamabad has invited the top leadership of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) to take advantage of the current improvement in relations between India and Pakistan. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had extended the invitation to eight members of the Executive Council of the APHC to visit Pakistan from December 15th to 22nd. Diplomatic sources familiar with the development revealed that New Delhi may once again show her intransigence in facilitating travel documents. Since, some elements in India are not sincere towards resolution of Kashmir issue through consultative process, they don’t want Kashmiri leadership to visit Pakistan or meet Pakistani political leadership. “They want to jeopardise the consultative process initiated by Pakistan and, therefore, they are aiming at creating divide within the pro-movement camp by allowing only a few leaders to visit Pakistan,” informed sources said.  Diplomatic experts believe that Pakistan invited the APHC leaders on a week-long visit to Islamabad following the thaw in Pak-India relations. This opportunity could lead to effective Kashmir talks. The bilateral relations between two neighbouring countries that were stalled in the wake of Mumbai attacks in 2008 seemed to thaw since Islamabad granted Most Favourite Nation (MFN) status to New Delhi besides other key bilateral steps from visa relaxations to delegate exchange programmes. But some segments of Indian media have started a negative campaign against the visit of APHC leaders branding them as “separatists,” supposedly having break away designs against India.  “Pakistan, as always, will continue diplomatic and political support of Kashmiri brethren. The invitation is also meant to develop an understanding on their point of view,” a senior official commented, when contacted. According to him, some Indian elements do not want that trust between Pakistan and APHC leaders should strengthen. Rather they want trust deficit to increase, he underlined. Political analysts also state that some hawks from India wanted to derail the improvement in relations between Pakistan and APHC leaders. Pakistan has the same old stand on Kashmir. “We sincerely want Kashmir issue to be resolved as per the wishes of Kashmiri people and as given in the UN Charter,” officials said.  Experts suggested that the prevailing developments in the peace initiatives must not go waste once again. Therefore, the leadership of both the countries should work sincerely to improving ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours. The initiative regarding the scheduled visit of the APHC leaders, has been taken to begin a consultative process between the political leadership of Pakistan and pro-movement leaders of Indian Held Kashmir , which would certainly set appropriate grounds leading to the peaceful resolution of Kashmir issue.  Kashmir experts believe that such visits by the Hurriyat leader’s suit India and Pakistan - APHC acts as “facilitator” in deciding things which are in line with aspirations and interests of Kashmiris. However, some hardliners in India, ironically, want to derail the peace initiative, adopt restraint and over-cautious attitude towards upcoming trip of Hurriyat leaders. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that India wants to resolve all issues including Jammu and Kashmir issue with Pakistan through dialogue. On February 10, New Delhi and Islamabad announced that they would resume full peace talks which were suspended by Mumbai episode. Experts say that large majority of Indian populace want peace to prevail so that the pace of economic prosperity continues. Experts warned that Indian media hawks are likely to create hurdles to curb first formal conversation between the two sides in nearly four years. Since 2004, the peace process between India and Pakistan provided an ideal forum to tackle core issues and improved the decades old mistrust through Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). The recent overtures from both the sides clearly indicate that both the neighbouring countries want prosperity in the region and for that agree that the resolution of Kashmir is a priority for Pakistan and India. The dialogue process will not only narrow down the differences on Sir Creek, the comprehensive resolution on demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier will also be worked out amicably. From a Kashmiri perspective, the leaders of both India and Pakistan should be encouraged to continue with the good-will initiatives (CBMs) they have started some time ago. This will enable both the countries to find converging interests.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 07-Dec-2012 here.