December 2001 News

Geelani not singing Hurriyat tone

3 December 2001
Indian Express
M L Kak

Jammu: The way Syed Ali Shah Geelani considered to be a hardliner in the Jamait-e-Islami and the APHC, has been blowing hot and cold over the Pakistan Government's stand on the US war against global terrorism seems to have caused embarrassment to several Hurriyat Conference leaders. On many occasions in the recent weeks, Mr Geelani has taken a stand which is not in tune with the policy of the Hurriyat Conference. Some of the Hurriyat leaders have blamed him for voicing views which are in contrast with the stand of the Hurriyat. When Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf supported the US plan to strike Afghanistan, Mr Geelani opposed it while the executive committee of the Hurriyat Conference, of which Mr Geelani is also a member, supported it. The committee supported General Musharraf on the plea that his policy was in the interest of Pakistan and its people. However, Mr Geelani amended his statement, saying that he too endorsed General Musharraf's stand. In the recent days he has been heard showering praises on he fighting skills of the Taliban md has berated the US action in Afghanistan as a form of terrorism. When the state government decided to implement POTO the Hurriyat Conference did not react. It was the Kashmir Bar Association that gave a call for Kashmir bandh and the call was supported by Mr Geelani. A senior Hurriyat leader said: " There are no serious differences among the leaders in the 23-party conglomerate. Mr Geelani has his own views and we do not raise any objections. He usually fails to maintain restrain when he addresses a large group of people." Another leader admitted that Mr Geelani was trying to emerge as a frontline leader of the separatists. He said it was because of the consistent efforts of the party chairman, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat, that Mr Geelani had not been thrown out of the Hurriyat Conference. He said: "Prof Bhat is trying to keep the flock together." Mr Geelani, is seems, has fallen out with the moderates in the Jamait-e-Islami. The Jamait chief, Mr G.M. Bhat, is regarded as a moderate and recently refuted government claim that the Hizbul Mujahideen was the military wing of the Jamait-e-Islami. He said: "We are not a political wing of any militant outfit." Mr Geelani is close to the top leadership of the Hizbul Mujahideen. Reports said as a result of cordial relations with several top militants, Mr Geelani had been drawing bigger crowds to his rallies than other Hurriyat leaders, with the exception of Molvi Umar Farooq who has pockets of influence in Srinagar. It left to Mr Abdul Gain Lone and Mohammad Yasin Malik, JKLF chief, Mr Geelani would have been replaced by some other Jamait leader. Another Hurriyat leader said Mr Geelani remained conspicuous by his absence at executive committee meetings. However, Prof Bhat evaded a direct reply when asked to comment on Mr Geelani's absence from the meetings. "Since Mr Geelani has been unwell, the Jamait deputes another leader to represent it at the meeting," Prof Bhat said. A couple of Hurriyat leaders, who were peeved at a statement of Mr Geelani in which he had criticised some leaders for paying frequent visits to Delhi, said: "Syed Ali Shah wants to emerge as the sole voice of Kashmiris, whether it be in Islamabad or in Delhi." The APHC needs Mr Geelani and Geelani cannot survive for long out of the Hurriyat Conference and hence it is a union of convenience instead of conviction.


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