China has ‘direct link with Kashmir’, says Mirwaiz ahead of visit (Third Lead)

New Delhi/Srinagar, Nov 20 ( Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is slated to travel to China, has said Beijing has a “direct link with Kashmir”.

The Mirwaiz, who is set to visit China on the invitation of an NGO, said China has “a huge influence in the region and has a direct link with Kashmir as certain parts of Kashmir are in China’s control”, he said in reference to the Aksai Chin area.

However, he also said that China is “not a party to the conflict”.

“I believe that China is not a party to the conflict (over Kashmir) but China has a stake as far as peace in the region is concerned. So, the Hurriyat Conference welcomes the approach adopted by China and America (on the issue of South Asia),” he told newspersons in Srinagar.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, when asked whether the Mirwaiz’s visit showed that China was trying to intervene in Jammu and Kashmir, said “We don’t accept that view”.

Earlier, the central government said the Mirwaiz was free to travel anywhere he wanted to, including China, but the Chinese embassy should not staple his visa separately as it is has been doing for Kashmiris.

“He (the Mirwaiz) is free to travel wherever he wants to,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters outside parliament.

The Mirwaiz is also travelling to Islamabad, where he will meet the Pakistan leadership to discuss the resolution of the Kashmir issue. In Beijing, he is to deliver a lecture.