Back-channel talks to engage separatists

At a time when Indo-Pak dialogue resumed after more than three-year hiatus, back-channel players in Kashmir have resurfaced to engage separatist leadership in the dialogue process.

Senior BJP leader and head of now revived Kashmir Committee, Ram Jethmalani, met several separatist leaders, including hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, on Sunday.
“Separatist leaders are ready to make some compromises to thrash out a solution to the Kashmir issue,” Jethmalani told a vernacular news agency.

He said that unless the extreme positions on both sides were not abandoned, “no solution was possible.”

“Majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir want a peaceful solution and for this, a compromise on their respective stands is inevitable,” Jethmalani, who was law minister in Atal Behari Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre, said.

Asked if there were any indications of separatists blinking first, he said, “If a hardliner like Geelani sahib sits with me to talk Kashmir problem it must be seen as an indication that there is scope for a compromise on certain issues.”

“There is no other way than to shed the tough stands on all sides, including Pakistan, if any consensus is to be reached,” he added.

Jethmalani, who revived his Kashmir Committee earlier this year after the separatists refused to meet the three-member New Delhi appointed interlocutors team in 2010. He received a big boost when Geelani met him in New Delhi earlier this year to discuss intricacies of the Kashmir dispute.

The BJP stalwart had motivated Geelani to meet number of former diplomats, Army officers and politicians at his Akbar Road residence in New Delhi in February this year.
Reportedly, film actor and BJP legislator Shatrughan Sinha had also held a chat with Geelani.

“It is for the first time since 2010 that track II diplomats have become active on Kashmir as the government of India wants to engage separatist leadership,” sources told Deccan Herald.

Jethmalani,  accompanied by KC members V K Grover (former Indian foreign secretary), Madhu Kishtwar (woman rights activist) and Manu Sharma have also met moderate separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Ahmad Shah and Nayeem Ahmad Khan.

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