NEW DELHI: Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani is not particularly enthused by the new developments on the India-Pakistan front, more so after the unexpected visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Lahore. Having seen “150 rounds” of talks between the two countries start and fail the ageing Kashmiri leader who still commands a bigger following than most others in the Valley, remained cynical about the outcome of the new initiative. Excerpts from an interview with The Citizen:

Q. What is your assessment now, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden visit to Lahore?

There can be no progress until both India accepts that Kashmir is not an integral part, but a disputed territory. India had made a commitment for plebiscite and removal of the Army, this promise had been made by Jawaharlal Nehru here at Lal Chowk. History is replete with these promises and there can be no peace between India and Pakistan until Kashmir is resolved.

Q. But the fact that PM Modi himself has gone to Pakistan, does not that herald a new beginning?

You must have heard his speech in Afghanistan. He attacked Pakistan and then went from there to Lahore. This seems to be just drama. Two faces, you change direction and you change the face. In Arabic there is a word zulwajhain that means different faces for different people. A person’s character, what we call character, is determined by his ability to decide on a correct course of action, and then like a rock to stand by that decision with one face.

Q. But Pakistan seems to be very happy with the visit, there is joy all around….

(Laughs) We say here in Kashmiri that a khwaja says to the people ‘your stomach has burst’ and they all start laughing with happiness….(laughs loudly)...

Q. But at least they have reached Lahore?

And what are they doing there (laughs again). (Then says seriously) Look till now 150 rounds of dialogue have taken place, and not one has moved forward. India says we are ready for dialogue but it has to accept the hard reality that Kashmir is disputed. Even the former Minister P.Chidambaram admitted that the ‘Kashmir problem is a broken promise.’

Q. India is worried about terrorism, and has taken a position on this but Pakistan has not responded as New Delhi wants it to?

The entire world today is a target of terrorism. Pakistan itself is in the grip of terrorism. India has also been a target. Like Malegaon, Samjhauta express...What are they doing here in Kashmir. The police and the Army have violated and are violating human rights…

Q. So what should be, or will be, the attitude of Kashmiris towards the dialogue when it begins?

The talks are to start on January 15, 2016. Kashmir is the basic problem, there is no other controversial issue. Until they place this firmly on the table, until they resolve this there can be no possibility of peace between India and Pakistan.