Geelani's Going Is Good-riddance For Hurriyat
17 August 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: During the first week of August many things happened in Srinagar that helped lift the cloak and expose the reality in the State. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been claiming that he is the head of the real All Party Hurriyat Conference, gave up the claim and decided to float a new political party called the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir. The All Party Hurriyat Conference, which has been in a state of suspended animation, following the resignation of Moulvi Abbas Ansari, has formally given up the attempt for unity. After floating the new party on August 7, SAS Geelani went back to his earlier formulation that he would favour tripartite talks - India, Pakistan and Kashmiris - and continue the struggle for 'the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir'. Geelani said that his party would 'draw inspiration from Islam'. The events in Srinagar must have caused a sense of exasperation in New Delhi. Home Minister Shivraj Patil has been saying for weeks that the new Government would continue the dialogue with the representatives of the Hurriyat Conference, and was keen to fix a date for the meeting. The Hurriyat leaders were busy with their 'unity' exercise. With no possibility of an early meeting, Shivraj Patil was quoted saying that the talks with the Hurriyat leaders would be held within the Constitutional framework. The Hurriyat was quick to react to the statement of Mr Shivraj Patil. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq said that the setting up of pre-conditions for the dialogue was against the spirit of the parleys and conditional talks are 'unacceptable and impractical'. In a statement Hurriyat said that 'there would be no breakthrough in the talks unless the parties show flexibility in their stands, understand the problems in its correct perspective and exhibit far-sightedness'. Much is being read into the statement made by Shivraj Patil. As Home Minister he has to lead the dialogue with the Hurriyat leaders. The Prime Minister is likely to meet them. It is also likely that Congress President Sonia Gandhi would visit Srinagar and meet the dissident leaders sometimes this year. One expected the Hurriyat leaders - minus SAS Geelani - to show 'far- sightedness' at least now. Much time has been wasted in courting Syed Ali Shah Geelani by various persons. There was little doubt that he would always continue to promote the hardcore Pakistani point of view. For over five years, the talks with the Hurriyat could not commence because of Geelani. To start with, he insisted that the Hurriyat delegation should be allowed to go to Pakistan before the talks could commence. He is now back to his original formulation that there should be ' tripartite' talks. Following the announcement of Syed Ali Shah Geelani that he is floating a new political party, the Hurriyat has decided to unite under Mirwaiz Umer Farooq. He will remain the 'acting' leader till a formal election is held to decide who would replace Moulvi Abbas Ansari. Mirwaiz Umer Farooq is now approaching leaders like Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik to come under the umbrella of the All Party Hurriyat Conference. One hopes they will react positively. The Hurriyat would then gain credibility. As of now many question the representative character of the Hurriyat. As far as 'flexibility' is concerned, former POK Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum said in an interview to Jang (9-8) that 'there is no harm in accepting LOC as a permanent border provided there is practical guarantees for its defence and security and safeguarding its economic status. Any solution giving guarantees of safeguarding lives and property of 8 million Kashmiris is acceptable to us'. It is also clear that there is not much international support for the view that there is a threat to peace because of the situation in Kashmir. The United States Government has been stating that India and Pakistan should continue their dialogue to find a solution. The composite dialogue is proceeding on expected lines. The cease-fire along the LOC is sustaining. It is also expected that India will not keep the international border and the Line of Control 'active' forcing Pakistan to deploy forces on its eastern border. If that happens, Pakistan cannot play its role as a frontline State in the fight against terrorism. For the record Pakistan has lodged its displeasure over the construction of the border fence in Jammu and Kashmir. It is now accepted that India can take steps to prevent infiltration from Pakistan into Jammu and Kashmir. It is widely known that terrorist training camps are located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and even in parts of Pakistan, and there is very little one can do to eliminate them. President Musharraf has himself realized that the terrorists are no friends of his or even of the Pakistan Army. Interior Minister Faizal Saleh Hayyat told the Associated Press (9-8): 'We know that al-Qaeda is here. They have their sleeper cells in Pakistan, and we are trying to eliminate them.' The Miami Herald correspondent reports: 'Despite the government's strong support to the United States, the nation (Pakistan) is home to dozens of homegrown militant groups some with roots in the Kashmir conflict, others that sprung up during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.' Ayaz Amir wrote in the Dawn (6-8) 'Al Qaeda's war against the Pakistani establishment is not the main war Pakistan is engaged in. This is a side show, an example of Frankenstien turning against his creator, of forces of jihad rebounding against their erstwhile masters. Pakistan's military intelligence agencies nurtured the forces of jihad for over 20 years. Their twin aims turning Afghanistan into a client state and bleeding India in Kashmir'. Now they are out to bleed Pakistan itself. President Musharraf is judged by the actions that he is taking now - within Pakistan itself According to the newsmagazine Jinnah, Pakistan Intelligence agencies are 'grilling Harkat-ul- Mujahideen Chief Fazlur Rehman Khalil and Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami Chief Saifullah Akhtar in their effort arrest of anyone- from Osama bin Laden, Mulla Omar or Dr. Aiman al Zawahiri, before the 9-11 anniversary. In this situation Geelani's going is good- riddance for the All Party Hurriyat Conference.