Jamaat Wants Geelani Back As Party Head
1 August 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: In a significant political development in Jammu and Kashmir, the Jamaat-e-Islami has rescinded its earlier decision to 'retire' its hard-line leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. He has also been reappointed as the 'powerful' head of its political wing, which stood defunct since his unceremonious ouster last year. However, the 76-year-old separatist leader has conveyed to the Jamaat leadership that his differences with it were ideological and not for any post. 'The Jamaat's present leadership has deviated from the values it stood for and the basic thought behind its formation nearly sixty years ago,' he is reported to have told his parent organisation. Reliable sources said that Mr Syed Geelani wanted the issue to be discussed threadbare within the Jamaat before his future role in the party was determined. Hence, the decision might be kept in abeyance till the final decision came. And if the differences persist Mr Syed Geelani would, in all probability, go in for the idea of convening a meeting of like-minded party men here on August 5. It is a far-gone conclusion that the rebels would rally behind Mr Syed Geelani in which case the proposed Assembly would only become the basis of formal split in the Jamaat. It is precisely in an attempt to avert such a situation that the Jamaat has given in and decided to recall Syed Geelani. A statement issued at the end of a two-day meeting of its Majlis-e-Shoora (advisory council) held here says that it was 'in the larger interest of the Jamaat and to endow it with tutor- like leadership that it was decided to withdrawn the retirement decision.' Other party activists who were also unilaterally declared 'retired' have been recalled but their responsibility in the party would be determined later on, the statement added. In a major policy shift, the Jamaat has called for making peaceful efforts to resolve Kashmir either by implementing the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions or holding tripartite dialogue involving India, Pakistan and the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, the party had chosen not to oppose the two-way dialogue being held between the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference and the Centre although it was unsure of what role it (Jamaat) should play in the changing political scenario. Kashmir watchers say that if the Jamaat succeeds in persuading Mr Syed Geelani to return to its fold and head its political bureau, the party would automatically become a constituent of the Hurriyat Conference faction led by him. This would undoubtedly strengthen Mr Syed Geelani's hands. So far, the Jamaat was maintaining equidistant from both moderate and hard-line factions of the amalgam of Kashmiri separatist parties.