May 2002 News

Hizbul rift, Assembly polls force Hurriyat to rethink strategy

14 May 2002
The Pioneer
K Balasubrahmanyam

New Delhi: Considering the rift within the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen a significant development in the political canvas of Jammu and Kashmir, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is likely to chalk out a new strategy at its executive committee meeting that will be held in the last week of May. At this juncture the most critical question facing the Hurriyat is what should they do if some of its constituent parties choose to participate in the elections defying the earlier decision to boycott the polls. The reported inclination of the expelled Hizb leader Abdul Majid Dar to take part in the forthcoming Assembly elections would have a direct influence on some of the Hurriyat constituent parties, which would mean a further rift within the Hurriyat, say worried APHC leaders. ''The APHC would go by its agenda. Those who support the agenda would stay put and those who oppose it would part ways,'' a senior Hurriyat leader commented on Tuesday. The Hurriyat is also waiting for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Home Minister L K Advani and Defence Minister George Fernandes'' visit to the Valley in the coming few months. The Union Government is expected to announce a package for the development of the militancy-hit State. Though APHC leaders maintain that they would discuss the options for a peaceful solution to the vexed Kashmir problem, they feel that the political contour in the Valley would take a decisive shape only after the Prime Minister''s visit.As of now, several forces are working on various propositions towards finding a solution for the Kashmir problem. The Prime Minister''s office is busy preparing a package for Jammu and Kashmir, arranging meetings between Hurriyat leaders and Pakistan-based Kashmiri leaders and organising seminars on the issue. On the other hand, the Hizbul Mujahideen is on the verge of split. There are enough indications that the expelled Hizb leader Abdul Majid Dar and his colleagues would float a party and take part in the forthcoming Assembly elections. Though the Hurriyat is confident that it would be the flagbearer for any political solution in the strife-torn State, its leaders are waiting for the things to settle down. ''Once the things are clear, we decide our future course of action. We need more clarity on the fast developing situation in the Valley,'' he said. APHC leaders argue that their political entity would not be disturbed even in case Mr Dar and his colleagues prefer to float a separate political outfit. ''Mr Dar would be like any other ordinary political worker the moment he leaves the politics of violence. Getting the acceptance of the people would not be that easy for any militant- turned- politician in the present scenario,'' a prominent APHC leader said. ''One should understand the situational change. Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik was recognised as a leader as there was a political vacuum in the State. He is a popular leader and fought for independent Kashmir. Now, every plank is occupied. Where is the scope for selling new arguments? There is hardly any political space now for new entrants,'' he said.


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