There are still hopes, says Hurriyat chief
27 April 2001
The Hindustan Times
Jammu: The All-Party Hurriyat Conference's decision not to enter into any dialogue with the Central government, at the moment, does not mean that it is end of the road. APHC chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat has no regrets over the decision. “Negative things yield negative responses', Bhat told the Hindustan Times. If pessimists like his colleague Abdul Ghani Lone feel that 'every effort put in so far has gone down the drain', Bhat believes that 'politics is exploration of possibilities'. The implied meaning is that there are still hopes. These hopes, though feeble, are based on the perceived pressure on the government by the international community and on the Hurriyat by the people of Kashmir. The ground situation raises the question, what next? Since the offer of talks was valid for all parties, Hurriyat's pulling out does cause problems for the government:. The question the government would face would be, should it go ahead with the dialogue and leave the conglomerate for a while? If the government goes ahead without the Hurriyat, the important separatist constituency is ignored and the goal of peace would be elusive. And if a Hurriyat delegation is allowed to travel to Pakistan, the government would appear to be succumbing to pressure at a time when it is already under attack for not having taken a strong stand against Bangladesh over the killing of 16 BSF men. There is also a danger that the Hurriyat once permitted to visit Pakistan, may don the mantle of a mediator notwithstanding its firm denials to that effect. Senior Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma accuses the government of miscalculation. He says that the government was 'giving a larger-than-life image to the APHC that has no standing even in the Kashmir Valley'. “Why is the government allowing the nation of a billion people to be held at ransom by such people?” Sharma asked. He favoured talks with other groups interested in peace. “What is the guarantee that once they go to Pakistan, they would not bring with them the long-term dangerous plans for India and Jammu and Kashmir in particular?” he asked. Even the ceasefire, now in its sixth month, has achieved little.