Separatists' Venom Stings Pak Journos
8 October 2004
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: Kashmiri separatists across the spectrum conveyed their disaffection with Pakistan and their deep suspicion of its intentions to Pakistani journalists who concluded their first-ever tour to J&K on Friday. Even Pakistan's staunchest ally, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, expressed grave reservations about his mentors. He openly expressed the apprehension that the India-Pakistan peace process could jeopardise the interest of Kashmiri secessionists. 'Pakistan must be told that there should be no flexibility in its 57-year-old stand on Kashmir. There's anxiety here that Pakistan may take a U-turn on Kashmir like it did on Afghanistan,' Geelani said, while endorsing the view that the visit of the Pakistani journalists to J&K was politically incorrect. Conspiracy theorists in Srinagar saw in the journalists' visit an Indian design with Pakistan's complicity. By accepting Indian visas to visit J&K, the Pakistanis were negating the state's status as disputed territory, they said. The Hurriyat's moderate faction surprised the Pakistanis with its strident attack on Islamabad. It held Pakistan squarely responsible for engineering a split in the Hurriyat, which was a common platform. 'We never thought a symbol of political unity would be broken up by its very mentors,' fumed Abdul Gani Bhat, former Hurriyat chairman, vowing never to visit Pakistan. 'I've torn up my will in which I desires (earlier) of being buried in Pakistan after my death,' he said bitterly. Admitting he received Pakistani money for promoting secessionism in J&K, Bhat accused Islamabad of creating obstacles for the resolution of the problem by funding a plethora of agencies to scuttle peace moves. But it was the JKLF's Yaseen Malik who stunned the scribes with his shrill criticism. After Malik set the tone by alleging that the journalists were being 'manipulated by India', his eloquent lieutenants criticised Pakistan's commitment to Islam, its founding father ('Jinnah took Islam back to the age of Mohammad bin Qasim'), attacked its 'Punjabiism' and mocked its nuclear capability, calling Pakistan 'too small' and pretentious. A Malik associate, Prof. Agha Ashraf Ali termed India and Pakistan as pipsqueaks - men with no small bones- and 'little Johnies' dancing to the tune of the US'. The JKLF had 'no hopes from Pakistan', he grandly declared and vowed that 'Kashmiris will have the last laugh'. Imtiaz Alam, the leader of the Pak delegation, in his brief closing remarks, hoped the 'Kashmiris have the last laugh'.