Hurriyat positive, wants to go to Pak
20 December 2000
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The Hurriyat Conference today welcomed the extension of the Ramzan cease-fire by a month and urged the Centre to strengthen this military step with a political initiative. The Hurriyat said its leaders should be allowed to travel to Pakistan, talk to the mujahideen leadership and help create an atmosphere for a comprehensive peace process. However, hardline Jamat-e-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, former Hurriyat chairman, said that unless the Centre immediately called for a tripartite conference to resolve the basic issue, the cease-fire will serve no purpose at all. ''I will not make an appeal to our boys with the guns to reciprocate theGovernment of India''s gesture by silencing their guns because I know nothing comes out of mere appeals,'' said Hurriyat Chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat. ''The Government of India should immediately give us permission to visit Pakistan to speak to the boys. This cannot brook any delay, if we have to carry the peace process forward. The delay will lead to confusion which will harm the process.'' Bhat said extension of the unilateral cease-fire was expected. ''Though it is another step in the right direction and the forces of history were shaping encouragingly, we must come out of these cease-fires and take practical steps. The need is to immediately initiate a purposeful dialogue''. Geelani, however, said restoration of peace was not possible without resolving the basic dispute. He drew the analogy of a dog''s carcass contaminating the water of a well. ''Even if you take out 20 or 40 buckets, the well will still stink. If you want to clean the water, you have to get the carcass out,'' he said.''The Kashmir dispute is that dead dog and peace will never flourish in thesub-continent until this dispute is resolved permanently,'' hesaid. Geelani said nobody can comment on the real motive behind this peace initiative. ''However, the conduct speaks about the motive and we are well-versed with India''s conduct for the past 53 years,'' he said.''Why do you forget that there was a cease-fire in 1949, that too underUN guarantee. It ended with the 1965 war because the basic dispute was left unresolved. Then Russia intervened and there was the Tashkant agreement. Nothing happened and finally Pakistan''s right arm, East Pakistan, was chopped off in the 1971 war. Then there was the Shimla agreement, and after27 years now, the issue is still unresolved,'' Geelani said, emphasisingthe need for an immediate resolution of the issue. Another former Hurriyat Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, welcomed theextension of the cease-fire and demanded immediate launch of a politicalinitiative to strengthen this military step. ''Though a right step in the right direction, the cease-fire still remains a military initiative. What is needed is a political step,'' he said. The Mirwaiz also emphasised the need to allow the leadership to travelto Pakistan and speak to the mujahideen leadership. ''There was an absolutecommunication gap between the political leadership and the mujahideencommanders. In fact, the mujahideen had a forum - Shouria Jihad - in Kashmirand the Hurriyat used to be in touch with them. But after the Shoura seizedto exist, there has been no contact at all since 1996,'' Mirwaiz said. Mirwaiz said the aim of travelling to Pakistan was to talk to the mujahideenleadership and put forth the Hurriyat point of view. ''We can share ourapprehensions and also try to convince them with our own arguments,'' hesaid. ''I have absolute faith that our mujahideen leadership would acceptour viewpoint. But if they don''t agree, the political leadership has totake decisions.'' He said that there was a need to understand the complexity of the Kashmir dispute and every step needs to be taken in a proper context. ''Our movement has many dimensions, and for any concrete initiative, we need to keep this aspect in mind. The Hurriyat leadership too has to consult and involve the mujahideen leadership, who form an important ingredient of the movement,to go ahead and make the process purposeful,'' he said.