Pak Treats Geelani As The Real Hurriyat
12 November 2003
The Asian Age
New Delhi: The deep division between Kashmiri separatists has been successfully exploited by Islamabad through its high commissioner's iftar party in the capital to establish a pro-Pakistan All-Parties Hurriyat Conference chaired by Syed Ali Shah Geelani. A satisfied Mr Geelani, who was seeking legitimacy through street-corner meetings, having been denied this even by his parent organisation, the Jamaat-e- Islami, told The Asian Age that the Hurriyat had now been 'purified.' The invitations were sent by the high commissioner to Mr Geelani and other leaders in his faction with names and designations recognising them as the true representatives of their respective parties and not as defectors. APHC elected chairman Maulvi Abbas Ansari was merely invited by name without any designation being mentioned as were Prof. Abdul Ghani Butt and Mirwaiz Omar Farooq. Of the Lone brothers, only Bilal Lone was invited, with Sajjad being left out of the guest list. As a Hurriyat leader said, 'The son-in- law of Pakistan (Sajjad is married to JKLF leader Amanullah Khan's daughter from Pakistan) has been left out.' Pakistan, that had been trying to unite the two sides, gave up the effort following India's decision to have top level talks with the APHC. Till date, the Hurriyat had been told by well-placed Pakistani interlocutors that while the ISI was supportive of Mr Geelani, the foreign office privately recognised the APHC. The invitation letters recognising only the Geelani faction has 'exploded the myth,' as Kashmiri sources said, and made it apparent to the APHC that it is now considered dispensable by Pakistan. The move recognising Mr Geelani has been rushed through in the hope that the Ansari-led Hurriyat will then be tainted as a pro-India faction that Pakistan hopes will rob it of its legitimacy as the representative of the people in the proposed dialogue with Mr Advani. Mr Geelani, who will be arriving here on Thursday to attend the iftar, was firm in his praise for Pakistan. He refused to be led into any criticism of the neighbouring country, maintaining that it had stood by the people of Kashmir ever since Independence. He denied that the people of Jammu and Kashmir were disillusioned and even fed up with Pakistan and its politics. Mr Geelani also dismissed the proposal of opening the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar route saying that these measures were meaningless and 'we want a solution to the Kashmir issue.' The All- Parties Hurriyat Conference, that has responded positively to the dialogue with the Centre, has tried to maintain an equal distance from both Islamabad and New Delhi. Chairman Maulvi Ansari welcomed the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar proposal as 'very positive' and told The Asian Age that such measures could go a long way in restoring confidence between the countries. Interestingly, the feedback from the Valley suggests a certain unhappiness over Islamabad's rejection of the proposal that could work against Pakistan. Information minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told The Asian Age that it was wrong to say that Pakistan had rejected the proposals, it had only forwarded some suggestions. Mr Geelani has now been officially propped up by Pakistan along with leaders Ghulam Nabi Sufi, Ghulam Mohammed Hubi and Agha Hasan Dargami who have all arrived for the iftar party. Unity now remains a distant dream with Mr Geelani making it very clear that all those who have 'left' the Hurriyat were those who had not fulfilled their obligations to the people. Unlike the APHC leaders who have been trying to reconcile the differences, Mr Geelani, who believes in Jammu and Kashmir's accession to Pakistan, insisted that his former colleagues had not worked for the people's interests. 'There are no two factions, we are the Hurriyat that has now been purified,' he said. He was also critical of the Jamaat-e- Islami. When asked why his parent organisation was not supporting him, he said, 'They are still thinking, they are neither here nor there.' Mr Geelani is for a plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir that he believes will go in favour of Pakistan. He is hopeful that the Pakistani embrace will revive his sagging fortunes in the Valley. He is presently isolated and unable to add to the numbers that left the APHC at the onset.