Hurriyat unity moves unreal: Geelani
11 May 2005
New Delhi: Moves underway to reunite Kashmir’s fractious All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), as advised by President Gen Pervez Musharraf, appeared to suffer a setback on Wednesday when hard-line resistance leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani dismissed the idea as impractical. “It would be futile to unite the heads when the hearts are leaping in different directions,” Mr Geelani told Dawn from Srinagar. The implied criticism was aimed at Kashmir’s spiritual leader Mirwaiz Maulvi Umar Farooq who had offered on Tuesday to resign as head of APHC’s rump group to facilitate efforts to reunite what used to be Kashmir’s main resistance coalition. Maulvi Umar, speaking from Srinagar, said he was not averse to Mr Geelani taking over the leadership as APHC chairman after a meeting is summoned of the original seven members of the conglomerate’s executive council. Mr Geelani on his part has summoned a shura meeting on Thursday of his breakaway Tehreek-i-Hurriyat-i-Jammu and Kashmir to discuss the feelers from Maulvi Farooq. While the Mirwaiz stressed that a united APHC would be better equipped to negotiate the arriving talks with the Indian leadership and also to plan a high-level visit to Pakistan soon, Mr Geelani said both the moves were meaningless given the ground reality. This reality, which he said he had conveyed to President Musharraf and all other Pakistani leaders he had met in New Delhi recently, stemmed from a perception that India had made no hint of a concession to encourage substantive talks with its interlocutors on the Kashmir issue. “India neither recognizes the relevance of the UN resolutions nor does it even accept that Kashmir is a disputed issue. So what are we to discuss with them?” Mr Geelani asked. He was obliquely critiquing moves by Maulvi Farooq to prepare for talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sometime soon. Dr Singh was quoted in Indian news reports on Wednesday as saying he had received certain feelers for talks with the Hurriyat. Mr Geelani may not be the one he had in mind. “Hurriyat leaders are pulling in different directions. They hold contradictory perspectives on the problem and its solution. Where is the meeting ground to start unity talks?” Mr Geelani asked. Asked if he would consider joining APHC were he made its chairman, Mr Geelani shot back “This is not a battle for the kursi (chair). It is a battle of ideologies and of our commitment to the Kashmiri cause.” He alleged that in recent weeks Indian security forces had stepped up their aggression against the ordinary people throughout the Valley. This concern was also voiced by the Mirwaiz.