In their third interaction in five months, Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umer Farooq met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York and extended full support to the Indo-Pak dialogue, but expressed regret over the "slow" pace of the peace process.
During the meeting with Musharraf at the Roosevelt Hotel lasting over an hour, Mirwaiz briefed him on the first-ever talks the Hurriyat leaders had with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on September 5 while discussing the ongoing Indo-Pak dialogue process.
Mirwaiz, who had met Musharraf in Delhi in April and later in Islamabad in June, said he extended full support to the bilateral Indo-Pak dialogue process. "For the first time, we, the Kashmiris feel we are being involved in it."
"This is our attempt to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir issue so that we can see a peaceful south Asia," Mirwaiz told PTI after an over hour-long meeting with Musharraf, who was in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly session.
Terming this meeting as a Hurriyat effort of having a triangular dialogue on Kashmir simultaneously with India and Pakistan, Mirwaiz expressed satisfaction that both Dr Singh and Musharraf were holding discussions with the amalgam regarding the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat wanted Kashmiri leaders to be associated with the talks, which has not happened as yet, but the fact that both Dr Singh and Musharraf are talking to them shows that Kashmiris are being indirectly associated with the Indo-Pak dialogue on the Kashmir issue.
This is the third meeting of the Hurriyat chairman with the Pakistani president in 2005. Earlier, they had met in April when Musharraf came to Delhi to watch an Indo-Pak cricket match and later in Islamabad when the Kashmiri sepatatist leaders had crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus.
Mirwaiz was in New York to attend the Organisation of Islamic Conference meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. Hurriyat Conference has status of an observer in the forum.
"The matter is fast becoming triangular," Farooq said adding, Hurriyat's stand has been that the bilateral dialogue process should not only become triangular, but lead to becoming tripartite -- "and, it is very much in sight, so, we as the concerned party, support it."
He also mentioned Hurriyat's specific proposals, which the Kashmiris intend to present to both India and Pakistan.
Mirwaiz said the Hurriyat would put forward its proposals to Dr Singh in the second round of talks, which they intend to hold soon. Thereafter, Kashmiri leaders look forward to visiting Pakistan again. He, however, did not elaborate the specific Hurriyat proposals.
Describing his meeting with Musharraf as fruitful, Farooq said Musharrafl "supported our stand." He said while the pace of bilateral talks was slow, the dialogue was not stalled though there could be obvious hiccups.
As Mirwaiz met Musharraf, Pakistani officials announced that Musharraf has invited Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to visit Pakistan. Mehbooba Mufti, Sayeed's daughter and a member of Parliament, and Omar Abdullah, president of opposition National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, will visit Pakistan ahead of Mufti's visit, the Pakistan media reported.
When asked if he supported the visit to Pakistan by Sayeed and his daughter, Farooq said, "Why not, since they have already expressed their intention, they may like to do so."
On a different viewpoint of hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, he said it was not a time to pursue personal politics. "Our stand is forceful and effective, based on collective effort."