Separatists make contact with China to ‘discuss’ Kashmir
The chief of Kashmir’s moderate separatist alliance recently met a Chinese delegation in Geneva, the first such contact by Kashmiri separatists with Chinese officials since a simmering discontent against Indian rule broke out in 1989.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, met the Chinese Director Foreign Affairs, Ying Gang, in Geneva on the sidelines of the 13th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council and discussed Beijing’s possible role in the resolution of the dispute.
“It was a good gesture as the government of China had earlier avoided meeting us,” Farooq said.
According to Farooq, the Chinese official expressed support for the resolution of Kashmir problem “as per the wishes and aspirations” of people of the disputed region.
“Our country supports resumption of composite dialogue between India and Pakistan. China wants the two countries to take steps towards the resolution of Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz quoted Gang as saying.
Adding to New Delhi’s discomfiture over involving China in Kashmir, Farooq also urged the Chinese official to start academic research projects in Chinese universities to create awareness about the long-running Kashmir conflict.
The meeting may irritate New Delhi, which is angered at any hint that Kashmir is not part of India.
Last year, New Delhi barred residents of Indian Kashmir from travelling to China on separate visas issued by the Chinese embassy.
New Delhi protested against the visa policy and took up the matter with the Chinese embassy, asking Beijing to stop discriminating against Indian nationals on the basis of their “ethnicity” and “domicile”.
But Kashmiris say that China’s decision to issue visas to Kashmiris on loose sheets and now meeting with Farooq reflects Beijing’s recognition of Kashmir as disputed territory.
China has not given any explanation for its moves so far.
Kashmiri separatists say China has a stake in peace in the region because a part of the disputed state is under Beijing’s control.
Kashmir, where tens of thousands of people have been killed since an anti-India insurgency broke out in 1989, is divided between India, Pakistan and China.
India controls around 45 percent of the former princely state, Pakistan around a third and China the rest, a largely uninhabited slice of high-altitude desert.
Is China’s move a tit-for-tat measure against India where Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who calls for greater autonomy and cultural freedom for Tibet, has lived since fleeing Tibet during a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959?
China accuses the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for Tibet.
And could this meeting between Chinese officials and Kashmiri separatists after last year’s visa row affect relations between Beijing and New Delhi?