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Hurriyat leaders can't go beyond PoK: Government

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | May 26, 2005 17:59 IST

The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said it has no objection to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders' plan to visit Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir but they would not be allowed to travel beyond PoK without appropriate documents.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, MEA spokesman Navtej Sarna said that this has been pointed out to Pakistan as well.

"There is an explicit understanding that any resident of Jammu and Kashmir who wants to travel by bus from Srinagar to Muzzaffarabad on travel permits can only visit the other side of the Kashmir. They are not expected to visit any other place beyond Pakistani-occupied-Kashmir," he said.

The moderate faction of APHC, led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, on Wednesday accepted Pakistan's invitation to visit that country.

The Mirwaiz told journalists in interviews that the Hurriyat leaders would take the bus to PoK on June 2.

The Regional Passport Office in Srinagar, meanwhile, has said it has run out of travel forms for the Srinagar-Muzzaffarabad bus service.

With only a week left for the leaders to board the June 2 bus, the usual 15-day duration for travel form verification may also add to their woes.

When this was pointed out to Sarna, he said: "These are matters of detail."

In another development, an umbrella organisation of Pakistan-based militant groups has opposed the Hurriyat leaders' plan to visit Pakistan and PoK.

United Jehad Council chairman and Hizbul Mujahideen chief commander, Syed Salahuddin, said the Hurriyat's decision to travel to Pakistan would be 'detrimental' to the separatist cause in Jammu and Kashmir.

"This (visit plan) is apparently a good gesture. But unless and until the united leadership of Kashmir does not come to Pakistan, this visit will not bear fruitful results," he said in an interview in Rawalpindi to Reuters Television.

Salahuddin was obviously hinting that Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who heads a pro-Pakistan faction of APHC, must also be part of the Hurriyat delegation.

With PTI inputs

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