Hurriyat yet to decide on New Chairman
8 June 2000
Srinagar: Apparently caught by the recent events from the much talked about ''dialogue process'' to a spate of killings, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is yet to decide on the next chairman of the conglomerate. Though officially none among the senior executive members are ready to confess that anyone of them is a contender, secret lobbying has been on from at least a few of them. According to the Hurriyat constitution, an incumbent to the post of chairman can be re-elected for a second term. The one term of the present chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani of Jamat-e-Islami, had expired last month. However, he continues to hold the post without any interim resolution till the formal election for the post could be held. The seven-member executive is the electoral college for the post of chairman. When contacted, the chief spokesman of the APHC, Prof. Abdul Gani Butt, said that the executive would meet shortly to hold election for the post. Prof Gani told The Hindu that the situation in Kashmir was alarming and so that gets priority. On elections he clarified that Hurriyat did not want to get into the procedural wranglings. However, he refused to comment when asked whether he was a contender for the post. Sources revealed that lobbying in the circles which have a say in the election to the post of chairman had already begun. Though none of the contenders have opened up their cards so far, there are at least three strong contenders in the present chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, JKLF chairman Mr. Mohammed Yasin Malik and Prof. Gani who represents the Muslim Conference in the forum. Mr. Geelani has been mobilising support in his favour to get another year in office. Mr. Malik is also a strong contender for the post as the post has been so far held by those owing allegiance to pro-Pakistan parties in the Hurriyat. While Mr. Umar Farooq, who represents Awami Action Committee in the APHC was the first chairman of the conglomerate with another term, he was replaced by Mr. Geelani a known pro-Pakistan ideologue. Though Prof. Gani has succeeded in mobilising support of the strong lobby, it remains to be seen what way the wind blows. On his part the People''s Conference supremo Mr. Abdul Gani Lone has also been aspiring for chairmanship but he has not expressed his desire so publicly. He is now under treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Sources revealed that there was every likelihood of Mr. Geelani getting another year of extension since he has completed one month at the post after expiry of the term. This is imminent as the seven-member executive may not have a consensus on the new chairman at this juncture for varied reasons.