The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani cuts Pak ‘proxies’ to size

New Delhi, Dec. 30: Irked by the All Parties Hurriyat Conference statement that Pakistan must be involved in any dialogue on Kashmir, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today ruled out holding talks with Pakistan’s “proxies” in the state.

“We do not want to talk to Pakistan or their proxies. If we have to talk to Pakistan, we will not require any intermediary,” Advani was quoted by PTI as saying. Though he did not refer to the Hurriyat Conference, the message was blunt. India believes that a section of the Hurriyat leaders has been playing footsie with Pakistan.

Advani iterated what he had said in Jammu last week that Delhi was ready to talk to both elected representatives of the people as well as those who had stayed away from the elections. “We are ready to talk to elected representatives and to others as well, but not with those who only reflect Pakistan’s voice and consider that country to be their master,” he said.

The Centre, which had tried its best to woo the Hurriyat and prod it to participate in the elections, was put off when the umbrella group, claiming to reflect the voice of Kashmir, refused. Despite pressure from the US and friendly European nations, the Hurriyat adhered to its stand.

Having failed to divide the Hurriyat Conference between the moderates, represented by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and the sons of Abdul Gani Lone, and hardline elements like Sayeed Shah Geelani, Delhi is now inclined to dub them Pakistan’s stooges.

With the emergence of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s People’s Democratic Party as a potent force in Kashmir, the Hurriyat Conference is in a quandary.

The PDP has cleverly taken the wind out of the Hurriyat sails, and if Mufti can provide a clean administration, the Hurriyat’s role in the state will be further marginalised.

Advani made it clear that India’s current standoff with Pakistan would continue till the Pervez Musharraf regime stopped cross-border terrorism. “We will not talk to Pakistan till they dismantle their terrorist infrastructure and stop cross-border terrorism,” he said.

The deputy Prime Minister repeated the government’s stand on terrorism and warned the US that it must realise that the focus of the war on terrorism should be Pakistan and the military-fundamentalist character of nations. Unless there was a change, the war against terrorism would never be successful, he stressed.

Pointing out that Islamabad wanted to be on the right side of the US, Advani said: “They have no intention of reducing the level of anti-India propaganda. So long as their military-fundamentalist ideology does not change, their hostility towards India will continue.”

The deputy Prime Minister is, however, wasting his breath preaching to the converted. The people of India may agree with him, but the international community, especially the US, is unlikely to be convinced by this argument.

Washington needs Musharraf more than it needs India for its war on terrorism and al Qaida. Its self-interest demands that Pakistan be kept in good humour. So long as this remains the case, Delhi’s charges against Islamabad will fall on deaf ears.

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