Pak Scores Another Hit With Geelani's New Outfit
8 August 2004
The Times of India
New Delhi: Chances of the Kashmir dialogue process resuming have receded with Syed Ali Shah Geelani floating a new hardline political outfit on Saturday. Well placed sources in the government conceded that Pakistan has scored yet another tactical point in frustrating a dialogue between the government and the Hurriyat Conference and other groups, linking it firmly with the Indo-Pak dialogue on the Kashmir issue. The forming on Saturday of 'Tehreek-e-Hurriyat' by Geelani, a known pro-Pakistan politician who broke away from Hurriyat some months ago, may force the moderates in the Hurriyat to gravitate towards the new body, these sources fear. The moderates - among them Shabir Shah, Yasin Malik, Aziz Sheikh and Mirwaiz Omar Farooq - may not formally join the 'Tehreek'. But they may form a wider platform with Geelani. This would isolate the Maulvi Abbas Ansari, a Shia leader in an amalgam which is dominated by the Sunnis. Geelani's new outfit would also facilitate the revival of an active role by Jamaat-e-Islami, the principal pro-Pak political force in the state which had retained loose links with the Hurriyat while taking a back seat. Reacting to Geelani's announcement, Union home minister Shivraj Patil told a news agency: 'Whether it will help in the peace process or not is a thing to be seen but it is not necessary to comment on this. It may help or it may further cause difficulties in the peace process.'