NEW DELHI: Major political parties and the Hurriyat Conference in India-held Kashmir have expressed support for a Kashmir-centric dialogue between India and Pakistan, welcoming the intent for “constructive engagement” expressed by the former and “uninterrupted dialogue” by the latter, The Hindu said on Tuesday.

It said Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Confere­nce, described Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Min­ister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s remarks of “uninterrupted dialogue on Kash­mir” as “a positive development”.

“It reflects new positivity. We hope that the channels of communication will remain open to build trust. It is in the interest of Kashmir and also in the interest of the entire region if the two countries come closer and resolve the long-pending Kashmir dispute,” he told The Hindu.

The Mirwaiz, who is a part of the Joint Resistance Leadership along with Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik, hinted at holding a meeting of various leaders over the latest engagement between India and Pakistan. Kashmir, he said, was a complex issue, and Pakistan had rightly suggested an uninterrupted dialogue.

“The dialogue is the need of the hour. We always support any such initiatives,” he said. The Mirwaiz, however, was quick to add that India needed to show reciprocity and “change its current military approach in Kashmir to a political one”.

Peoples Democratic Party leader Naeem Akhtar said the two countries had made an encouraging beginning by speaking of talks. “We hope the new government in Pakistan walks the talk and gets adequate response from this side too. Jammu and Kashmir is directly hit by the hostility between the two countries and the progress in the region is held hostage to security concerns. We expect a serious dialogue to follow up the statements,” he said.

The National Conference termed the statements of India and Pakistan “a crucial development”. “Dialo­gue needs to be taken forward. All groups will appreciate it,” the party’s general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said.

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2018

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