September 2003 News

A Weakened APHC

9 September 2003
The Daily Times

Islamabad: The no-trust move against Maulvi Abbas Ansari, Chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), should not come as a surprise. Neither should the fact that those who have made the move want Syed Ali Geelani, the hard-line APHC leader, to take over the APHC. Some weeks ago Maulvi Ansari gave an interview to an Indian newspaper which quoted him as saying that the APHC was prepared to talk to India sans Pakistan, and Islamabad could be included in any talks at a later stage. He was made to recant the statement and said he had been quoted out of context. Such was the import of his comments that the Pakistan Foreign Office came on-line and denied Mr Ansari had said what was attributed to him. This was a way of hinting to Mr Ansari that he was skating on thin ice. It seems now that Mr Ansari's helmsmanship was making some quarters wary and they have decided to cut the ground from under his feet before he does more damage. The die has been cast and, sadly enough, we may see the APHC fracture into moderates and hard-liners. That fault-line was always there but its emergence in full public glare will only end up weakening the Conference. Both India and Pakistan have been trying to influence the APHC, with Pakistan supporting the hard-liners and India working on the moderates. The game will be played more brutally and overtly in the days to come. Pakistan would have done itself much good by reducing the internal fissures rather than playing upon them. But for that, Islamabad needs to get out of its traditional mindset.


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