Track II diplomacy: Bhan meets Hurriyat (M) leaders

Track II diplomacy: Bhan meets Hurriyat (M) leaders

Abid Bashir

Srinagar, Sep 16: At a time when India and Pakistan are in reconciliatory mode, Government of India (GoI) also seems to have resumed Track-II (quiet) diplomacy in a bid to bring the estranged separatist leadership back on the dialogue table.

“Quiet diplomacy had slowed down a bit over the past one year and no real effort was made to reach out to the separatist camp following the fact that interlocutors were also trying the same. Since they failed to take the separatists on board, New Delhi decided to resume the process,” sources said.

Ashok Bhan, a Track-II diplomat, arrived here Friday evening on a two-day visit to the valley, apparently to carry forward the process.

The New Delhi’s fresh initiative to rope in separatists comes close on the heels of recent talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan.

Sources said Bhan met some leaders from the Hurriyat faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. The track-II diplomat reportedly tried his best to persuade the leadership to join the dialogue process.

“He tried to counsel the separatist leaders to move forward on the dialogue process. The leaders he met acknowledged the need for carrying forward dialogue process,” said sources privy to Bhan’s meeting with some leaders from Hurriyat (M).

They further said Bhan maintained that there was a perceptible change in the mindsets of the leaders of India and Pakistan and the separatists should also show some positivity.

“I had come to attend marriage ceremony of my friend’s daughter. In the meantime, I also met many of my old friends,” Bhan told Rising Kashmir.

Bhan said he also visited Mata Khirbhawani temple in Tulmulla, Ganderbal “to seek spiritual strength to carry forward his mission”.

Bhan’s visit comes barely a few months after another track-II diplomat, Wajahat Habibullah was in Kashmir in connection with a two-day conference at Kashmir University.

Sources said Wajahat has briefed top officials at New Delhi and Bhan will also follow the suit.

“There is every possibility that Hurriyat leaders from the Mirwaiz faction would receive a formal invite for talks in October,” sources said.

They said Bhan also met many delegations from Congress and Kashmiri Pandit community.

[Rising Kashmir]

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