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'Why should I go to Pakistan?'

Last updated on: June 01, 2005 12:56 IST

Kashmir separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, leader of the hardline faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, does not want to travel to Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, or even Pakistan.

Geelani, who is known for his pro-Pakistan stance, has turned down an invite from that country.

"Why should I go to Pakistan?" he retorted when asked why he had chosen not to accompany other leaders of the Hurriyat Conference on the planned two-week bus trip to PoK.

"I met [Pakistan President] General Pervez Musharraf in Delhi when he visited the Indian capital in April and told him about our views on Kashmir. I have asserted my stand to several top leaders of Pakistan, including the current prime minister, on many occasions. So what purpose would be achieved by going to Pakistan?" he said.

Geelani has so far been maintaining that the Indian government had not allowed him to visit Pakistan.

"I will go there at the time of my own choosing and not before," he said on phone from his residence in Srinagar.

Terrorist groups in Pakistan have welcomed Geelani's decision.

On being asked whether his decision was forced by the threat of militants, he said, "I am not afraid of guns. I am not under pressure from anyone."

Meanwhile, the government has asked the Hurriyat Conference delegation led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and other leaders to carry their passports along with them in case they wanted to travel beyond PoK.

The relaxation in the condition came after talks between two governments on Tuesday evening.

Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Bilal Lone, Yasin Malik all have passports. Shabir Shah has applied for one and the other Hurriyat leaders will be issued passports without verification within hours of receipt of their applications to facilitate the trip.

Also read:
Interview with Geelani

Hurriyat: The men who matter

Onkar Singh in New Delhi