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Pakistan backs Hurriyat's Geelani faction

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November 23, 2003 16:20 IST

Pakistan has said for the first time that it recognises the breakaway Geelani faction of the All Party Hurriyat Conference.

"They [the faction led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani] were the main active partners, and I think he [Geelani] is the one who has been very active and very vocal throughout, and I think people respect him in the [Kashmir] valley also," Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali said in an interview to Dawn newspaper.

Earlier, Pakistan had maintained that it wanted Geelani and Maulana Abbas Ansari to patch up.

It also backed the Geelani faction's claim to get recognition at the Organisation of Islamic Conference.

Jamali's announcement comes two days after Hurriyat led by Ansari expressed its willingness to hold talks with the Indian government.

"As far as we are concerned, Geelani is the person," Jamali said and accused India of trying to create a "dent" in the Hurriyat for "political motivations".

Asked whether it was right for Pakistan to sideline the Ansari-led Hurriyat, he said, "We have not sidelined them."

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