October 2002 News

Hurriyat bid to resurrect thorny issues

30 October 2002
The Hindu

NEW DELHI: As the Congress-People''s Democratic Party (PDP) coalition, headed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, prepares to assume office in Srinagar on Friday, the State would be witnessing interesting political developments in the coming days. While the Congress-PDP coalition and the Centre seemed to have struck a somewhat compatible wavelength, the Hurriyat Conference, which had stayed away from the polls, has once again raked up the issue of holding a trilateral dialogue involving India, Pakistan and the people of the State. As the Centre has already made it known that it would hold talks with the newly- elected representatives of the people in J&K, the Hurriyat suggestion is seen here as a bid to remain a relevant player in the political scenario of the State. The Centre''s perception is that the Hurriyat has been playing its politics at the bidding of Islamabad, and therefore, it may have reservations in involving it in any political dialogue. Seasoned political observers feel that the Congress-PDP coalition''s Common Minimum Programme (CMP) has spoken about tricky issues such as relocation of the Special Operations Group (SOG) and bidding good-bye to the POTA as well as its promise of ''humanising'' the law and order machinery. These could well catch the attention of the people who have found themselves over the past 14 years caught between the gunfire from both the sides men in uniform as well as militants. In this post-poll scenario, it is not surprising that the Hurriyat attempts to resurrect some of the thorny issues and throw up suggestions that could mar the ''healing touch'' efforts that may be taken up by the new government. The latest suggestion from the Hurriyat of holding ''trilateral dialogue'' has come within days of the Centre assuring full support to the Congress-PDP coalition in fighting cross-border terrorism and in carrying on with the developmental programmes. The Hurriyat Conference chairman, Abdul Ghani Bhat, has already held meetings with the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner, Jaleel A. Jilani, to ''take forward the process of talks'' which, he said, has been initiated by the Ram Jethmalani-led Kashmir Committee, whose relevance may come under the scanner once the Congress-PDP Government takes office. The Hurriyat sees itself as part of any trilateral dialogue, but the Centre is committed to talking to the ''elected representatives'' of the people, and there is a question mark on what status the Centre would give the Hurriyat which had boycotted the election process. ''Soon there will be another government in the State, but that is not the permanent solution of the problem. We are making efforts to involve people from both sides for a fruitful dialogue,'' Mr. Bhat said, while stressing upon ''people-to-people contacts'' between India and Pakistan. It also remains to be seen what happens to the initiative under which Arun Jaitley was to speak to the previous National Conference Government of Farooq Abdullah on ''devolution of powers''. Will that initiative be carried forward and a dialogue opened with the new government, and will the NC be also invited?.


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