Srinagar, (IANS) Hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif agreed to cooperate to eliminate terrorism, separatist leaders here on Friday criticised them for ignoring the Kashmir issue.
Mainstream politicians in the Kashmir Valley, however, welcomed the Modi-Sharif initiative to carry forward the peace dialogue between the two neighbours.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed welcomed the initiative saying: “We warmly welcome the latest initiative taken by the prime minister of the country and his Pakistani counterpart to revive the peace process between the two neighbouring countries.”
“We see a ray of hope in the fresh initiative and hope that it would turn out to be a defining moment in India-Pakistan ties. The state government is looking forward to not only stabilisation of borders in J&K, but also to the revival and expansion of JK-specific confidence building measures.”
Separatist leaders were angry as the joint statement did not mention the Kashmir issue.
Separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani criticised the joint statement, saying unless the dialogue between the two neighbouring countries focussed on the basic problem of Kashmir, it would neither be here nor there.
“This latest announcement is going to lead us nowhere. Unless the dialogue process aims at resolution of the basic problem of Kashmir, it would not move beyond a photo ops session between the leaders of the two countries,” Geelani said in a statement.
Former chief minister and Leader of Opposition National Conference, Omar Abdullah, said: “Resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue is a welcome development. I only hope that this time it is sustained over the long term for results.”
He, however, added: “We have seen too many breaks in this process to allow today’s announcements to excite us much here in the Valley but it is a good first step.”
Muhammad Yasin Malik, chairman of the Pro-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front told IANS: “I am not against the basic spirit of dialogue between India and Pakistan, but you have to understand that four generations of Kashmiris have remained hostage to the dispute over the future of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
“It is shocking that today’s joint statement by India and Pakistan does not even make a mention of this basic problem.”
A joint statement, issued in Russian city Ufa, said: “They (Modi and Sharif) agreed that India and Pakistan have a collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development.”
“To do so, they are prepared to discuss all outstanding issues. Both leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia.”