Did Pakistani Kashmir leader meet central interlocutor?


Srinagar: Visiting former Pakistani Kashmir prime minister Sultan Mehmood Chaudary Tuesday denied meeting central interlocutor Radha Kumar but a local news agency, citing sources, insisted he had a closed-door meeting with her and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

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Chaudary, in Srinagar to attend the marriage of a prominent local businessman’s son, denied having met Radha Kumar, one of the three central interlocutors on Kashmir, during his stay here.

“No, I have not met her. Yes, I had a chance meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah as he was also invited to the marriage ceremony which I came to attend here,” Chaudary said.

“My visit is completely private, but I am always ready to bridge the distances between people living on two sides of the Line of Control (LoC),” Chaudary said.

However, the news agency said Chaudary met both Radha Kumar and Abdullah late Monday evening.

Quoting sources, it said that the visiting Pakistani Kashmir leader had a closed door 25-minute long meeting with Abdullah at the residence of the local businessman, Zahoor Ahmad Watali.

“The meeting between Omar Abdullah and Barrister Sultan Mehmood Chaudary was so encouraging that Omar called Radha Kumar to the businessman’s uptown Sant Nagar residence in Srinagar yesterday (Monday) evening. Radha Kumar had an hour-long meeting at 11 p.m. after dinner with the visiting Pakistani Kashmir leader,” the news agency said.

It also quoted Radha Kumar telling some media persons: “Some things have to be kept a secret in the interest of the peace process. It was a coincidence we met”.

The news agency also quoted Chaudary as saying that although his visit had been a personal one, it had been converted into a “historical political one”.

The visiting leader told the news agency that unless the Hurriyat groups were taken on board, there could be no lasting solution to the Kashmir problem.

Chaudary Tuesday met separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who had rebuked him a day earlier.

Chaudary called on Geelani at his uptown Hyderpora residence and the two remained closeted together for more than one hour. Neither Geelani nor Chaudary divulged any details about their meeting.

“I had fixed today’s appointment with Geelani sahib much before my arrival here,” Chaudary told media persons outside the separatist leader’s residence.

Geelani had issued a hard-hitting statement Monday, rebuking Chaudary for saying he was prepared to move beyond stated positions to resolve the Kashmir dispute.

Chaudary was later taken around the Pahalgam resort in south Kashmir. He was accompanied by Minister of State for Tourism Nasir Aslam Wani.

He is scheduled to address a media conference at a Srinagar hotel Wednesday morning before leaving for New Delhi.