x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Indian Kashmiri separatists to hold talks in Pakistan

Leaders to travel to Pakistan for first meetings in 4 years.

SRINAGAR // Separatist leaders from Indian Kashmir will travel to Pakistan for their first talks with officials in nearly four years, they said yesterday, a move that could revive cross-border tensions.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a leader of the moderate Hurriyat Conference, said that Pakistan had invited him and other separatists who oppose India's rule of Kashmir to several days of talks in Islamabad next month. "We will be meeting members of the ruling party, opposition leaders and government officials," Mr Farooq said, adding that he wanted to convince all sides that "peace is impossible without resolution of Kashmir".

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region, which remains divided by the heavily militarised Line of Control.

Muslim-majority Kashmir, which India and Pakistan both claim but rule in parts, has been racked by militancy since 1989 when an insurgency against Indian rule erupted.

About 47,000 people have died, although militant violence has fallen in recent years.

India suspended its peace process with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks and talks only resumed in February last year.

Both sides remain deadlocked over Kashmir, but have made some progress in less contentious subjects such as bilateral trade.