November 2003 News

Unholy alliance between Geelani, Mufti: Lone

16 November 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Lone has alleged that 'there is a covert unholy alliance' between Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Hurriyat (breakaway) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani. 'Mr Geelani’s closest associates facilitated the victory of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in the last year’s State Assembly elections. I am convinced that there is a covert unholy alliance between Mr Sayeed and Mr Geelani,' Mr Lone told Pakistan’s The Friday Times in an interview. 'Mr Geelani is no sacred cow as depicted by the media in Pakistan. He is as dear to Kashmiris as Qazi Hussain Ahmed is to the Pakistanis,' he added. About Mr Geelani’s accusations that the Peoples Conference had fielded proxy candidates in the last year’s elections, Mr Lone said, 'Mr Geelani’s accusations against me are an extension of the vicious politics he played with my father, Abdul Gani Lone. He created a vicious environment by issuing similar statements against my father, which culminated in his assassination. He is in the process of recreating the same environment.' The Peoples Conference leader said he is not against the concept of elections. 'But there is a need to fight the Indian viewpoint that elections are a substitute for plebiscite. The truth is they are not. The elections are meant to elect people who will provide an administrative team to run the State,' he added. He described Mr Geelani as a 'party-less wonder' claiming to head a coalition of parties called the Hurriyat. 'Let Mr Geelani name the party he represents. He is a party-less wonder claiming to head a coalition of parties called Hurriyat. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr Abbas Ansari is the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference,' Mr Lone said. In the absence of a registering authority for parties, like the Election Commission in Pakistan or India, he said any person can claim to lead a party and asserted that the Hurriyat has not split. Mr Lone said the existence of the 'so-called' two Hurriyat factions indicates vested interests within the Kashmiri leadership. 'It is the battle between the self and the nation. Mr Geelani is perhaps the most explicit manifestation of the self. The Hurriyat led by Mr Ansari symbolises the nation,' he said. 'I cannot possibly identify a traitor. However, I can identify the contours of a traitor or betrayal. Only the people of Kashmir can judge who is a traitor and what constitutes betrayal. People, media, establishments or politicians of India and Pakistan have no say in it,' Mr Lone said when asked who is the traitor. Asked who had masterminded the split in Hurriyat, he said, 'there is no split. I repeat. A perception has been created. That perception suits covert agencies on both sides of the border. This could either be a joint venture between the covert agencies or a solo venture by one agency with the other facilitating the whole process. The truth is that this whole split thing could not have been brought about without the explicit or implicit or tacit cooperation of both the agencies.' In reply to a question, Mr Lone said, 'there is no single leader of the Kashmiris. And this is nothing peculiar to Kashmir. This phenomenon has affected the whole of South Asia. The era of performers like the Bhutto family or the Nehru-Gandhis, or the Sheikh family is history. Increased literacy rates and exposure to the media has translated into increased awareness. This means that no single leader can emerge and take over. In Kashmir there is an added dimension. India and Pakistan use their resources to thrust leaders on the people. The ideal concept of a true leader is a myth.' He said the Hurriyat has played a very important role in portraying the political face of Kashmir. The Indian or Pakistani recognition of it is irrelevant. 'What is important is that the Kashmiris and the world should recognise it.' The Peoples Conference is one of the main constituents of the Hurriyat Conference led by Mr Ansari. Thirty-six- year old Sajjad Lone was elected as its Chairman in the most tragic circumstances, after the assassination of his father. At the time, Sajjad Lone accused Pakistan’s intelligence agencies of orchestrating his father’s murder. About the murder of his father, he said, 'at the spur of the moment I did accuse the ISI. But I do not have any proof to substantiate my accusation. However, neither the ISI nor RAW is sacred. I have stayed in Pakistan and have a lot of Pakistani friends. I have nothing but contempt for all the covert agencies, especially in South Asia. They have done the most to harm their own people who they claim to defend or represent.’’ About the role of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammad in the militancy, he said, 'there is a section of people who feels that it is futile to use political means against a country like India. Although, we do not agree with their viewpoint, we possibly cannot deter them from taking up guns. The Lashkar and the Jaish are the products of those countries that have glamorised violence by ignoring politics. If politics is respected, violence will have no role to play. But the onus of diluting, marginalising or eliminating the role of violent elements is on India. If they accept that there is a problem and engage the political elements, violence will be crowded out.’’ Asked about the possible solution to the Kashmir issue, Mr Lone said negotiations, dialogue, diplomatic awareness are the key factors in resolving the Kashmir issue. 'Militancy has helped in the past in highlighting an issue that was almost forgotten. It has revived the issue of an unresolved Kashmir dispute. But continued use of militancy could prove counterproductive. Militancy is detested throughout the world. It is unwise to get excited by its gains at the local level and ignore the negative political impact it has around the world.' About India’s October 22 confidence building measures, Mr Lone said, 'on the face of it the CBMs do look innocent and harmless. The petty and mean nature of the Indians in including a humanitarian issue like treatment of Pakistani children was also visible. It would be better if India leaves humanitarian issues to the people of India and Pakistan. CBMs are essential since one cannot possibly solve all the issues in one go. Building rapport among the people is of utmost importance. This will create a positive pressure on the respective establishments for resolution. Whatever the Indians’ motive, Pakistan should give a positive response.' On islamabad’s response, he said the Pakistani response was predictably guarded. 'One has to be realistic. By mimicking the humanitarian issues they exhausted their quota of mean and petty behaviour. Both India and Pakistan should realise that there are no takers for their humanitarian efforts. For that they will have to be human to their own people first. Overall it seems that India has not been able to convince Pakistan that they mean business.' About the proposed Srinagar- Muzaffarabad bus service, the Peoples Conference leader said, 'it is a good step. The service should not be held hostage to the primitive behaviour of the two nations.' Asked if India and Pakistan can sort out their problems on their own, Mr Lone said, 'never. Third-party facilitation or supervision or participation or coercion is an imperative in trying to resolve the kashmir issue.' 'The truth is that 55 years after independence both these countries have failed to behave in a civilised manner and have been unsuccessful in evolving political and acceptable methods of conflict resolution. Their behaviour is a matter of shame for every resident of South Asia. Irrespective of their public postures both the countries are averse to the idea of allowing Kashmiris to choose their own destiny.' About the role of Pakistan television, he said, 'PTV’s role is negative. It has emerged as a biased mouthpiece out of sync with the times. Their newsroom is a hub of fiction. It is difficult to tell whether one is watching the famed PTV drama serials or watching PTV news. In both the element of fiction is total. The Pakistani media create stories. There is a yawning gap between the reality and what is reported in Pakistan.'(UNI)


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