Right-wing Jamaat Questions Pakistan Plan
4 May 2003
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
Jammu: The right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami of Kashmir is, in political parlance, called 'mother' of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). And Hizbul Mujahideen, to all intents and purposes, is the military wing of the well-knit, cadre-based Jamaat-e-Islami. Unity of purpose and of action has been, all these years of militancy and terrorism, the watchword for the two outfits, particularly in the context of anti-India expression and activity across Kashmir valley. Indeed, both Jamaat-e-Islami and Hizbul Mujahideen have not, during the period, left any stone unturned while building pro-Pakistan and anti-India atmosphere. On more than one occasion, in recent times, reports of some differences over some issues between the two outfits were circulated. But to expect the two organisations to differ on pro-Pakistan scheme or strategy was like drawing lines on water or storing water in a basket. For most of the men of the two organisations it was, all these years, virtually 'we-are-with-you' syndrome in relation to Pakistan's role or involvement in Kashmir. Obviously, it was in this context that one expected the two organisations to speak in one voice after the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zaffarullah Khan Jamali, and his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee, began to set in place a process to resume the stalled dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi. At the same time, it was also expected that Jamaat-e-Islami, which is a constituent of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), would take the Hurriyat line on India-Pakistan conciliatory talks, without, of course, going contrary to Islamabad's viewpoint. This didn't happen. Jamat-e-Islami's firebrand leader and former chairman of the Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, took the stand, completely different from the one taken by the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen and the Srinagar-based Hurriyat Conference on the dialogue process between the two countries. Saturday (May 3) had all the makings of a momentous chapter. Pakistan Premier Jamali dashed off a formal invitation to Vajpayee for a visit to his country. Vajpayee wrote back to him the same day on India's commitment to improvement of bilateral relations for which there was an immediate need for an end to cross-border terrorism and dismantling of its infrastructure. And on Saturday itself, three other momentous developments took place. First, of course, was the circulation of a statement, quoting Syed Salahuddin, Pakistan-based chief commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, as saying, in response to India's decision to restore diplomatic and air links with Pakistan: 'We can see a ray of hope... hope Indian leaders will not avoid the bitter realities and read the writing on the wall'. Second, the secessionist amalgam, widely known as Hurriyat Conference, welcomed Vajpayee's statement of appointing a High Commissioner to Pakistan among other confidence-building measures. Third development set many political activists and analysts thinking anew. A statement issued by Syed Ali Shah Geelani was something unexpected, something extraordinary. 'If today the stand is softened (by Pakistan) due to the pressure from any visible or invisible power, they can accept LoC (Line of Control) as International Border for the security of their country became of the pressure from the same power', the statement said, making it clear that Geelani did not see eye to eye with Pakistan Foreign Minister's announcement that instead of working for a solution of Kashmir issue this time, efforts would be made first to strengthen trade ties with India. That Geelani was not prepared to endorse Islamabad's revised line on Kashmir became amply clear with his pronouncement: 'But we want to make it absolutely clear that we will not make any compromise with the sacrifices of thousands of our martyrs and will carry on our struggle based on justice and truth. History will repeat its decision that truth emerges victorious against power'. If Pakistan Foreign Minister, Mahmood Kasuri, sought to highlight the need and relevance of better economic ties between the two countries in the given situation, Islamabad's loyalist in Srinagar (Syed Ali Shah Geelani) tried to throw water on the Pak plan. And if there was any doubt about it, it was set at rest by Geelani himself. As the known opponent of India in Kashmir, Geelani spoke the obvious: Restoration of diplomatic and trade ties and aerial, road and railway links between India and Pakistan will not directly bring any solace or relief to the 'suppressed' people of Jammu and Kashmir. And Geelani's warning: If no effort was made to address the Kashmir issue at this time, the hopes of 1.30 crore people would be dashed to ground.