March 2002 News

APHC's next step generates curiosity

22 March 2002
The Tribune

Jammu: What will be the next step the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) plan to take? This question is being discussed in the political circles with keen interest. The interest in the next step that the APHC may announce shortly has emanated from the brief statement that the chairman of the 23-party conglomerate, Abdul Gani Bhat, has made in which he said the next step would invite reaction from India and Pakistan. When Bhat was asked to explain the step but he refused to divulge it, saying that the main features of the next stage were yet to be discussed by the executive committee. Bhat, in reply to a question, told TNS that the first step taken by the APHC was to set up its own election commission. The second step, according to him, was nominating members of the commission. The APHC chairman seems to be confident that the third step would help India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue. Inside reports said the step may include the Hurriyat call to militants and the Indian security forces to declare a ceasefire. Once operations from both sides were stopped it could generate an atmosphere suitable for talks. Bhat clearly indicated that he and his party were not at all inclined to participate in the Assembly poll under the present system. "If at all we take part in elections it will not be for the purpose of sitting on the desks in the Assembly, whether on the treasury or Opposition benches, "he said, adding that "out participation will be purely for the purpose of determining the representative character of the APHC". A senior APHC leader when asked whether the militants would favourably respond to the call for ceasefire from the Hurriyat leadership he said, "They will have to because for that a groundwork was being done not only in Kashmir but also across the border. The important step may also include several conditions which, if accepted, by the Government of India could motivate and encourage the separatists in participating in the Assembly poll even if it was meant to determine the representative character of the APHC. Asked whether he would suggest some other way to join the poll process after the Centre refused to grant any recognition to the commission set up by the APHC and permission to get the Assembly poll conducted under the UN auspices. Bhat said the Centre might have to concede to some of our main conditions. Those who not attach any significance to the Hurriyat's proposed third step argue that when it decided to hold the first session of the members of the commission only two of the six members, Tapan Bose and Zaffar Mehdi, were present.


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