Separatists blowing hot and cold over PM's RTC
17 April 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: By all indications, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's third Roundtable Conference (RTC) of different political parties on Jammu & Kashmir problem is likely to end up as a mainstream exclusive. With Hurriyat (Geelani) having made it unambiguously clear that it would not participate in the conclave on its existing terms of reference and others-notably Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's faction of the separatist umbrella- still blowing hot and cold, none of Kashmir's formidable separatist outfits is likely to oblige the Prime Minister or his man of the series in the state, Ghulam Nabi Azad. Eversince Prime Minister's holding of the first RTC at New Delhi in February 2006, Hurriyat (Geelani) has adopted such a hardline posturing that its participation in these political processes is apparently impossible, in near future at least. 'We don't require to even discuss Manmohan Singh's, Shiv Raj Patil's and Ghulam Nabi Azad's invites. Hurriyat can not be expected to be part of such exercises as long as the participants are to deliberate on the administrative problems created the Kashmir problem. None of the five working groups has the agenda of discussing the real political problem', a senior functionary of the Hurriyat (Geelani) observed. He said, rather emphatically, that Hurriyat, with 'thousands of sacrifices by the Kashmiris' was not here to help Patil and Azad in solving their problems of governance. So-called moderate faction of the Hurriyat, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-which had earlier held some rounds of talks with the Government of India but later withdrawn over the issue of 'continued human rights abuse by armed forces'-has been characteristically playing with rhetoric. 'We can not participate until we are invited by name', 'We can not share table with NC and PDP', 'We will see when we will receive an invite' have been the distinguishing marks of this alliance for the last three years. Be it the issue of participation in elections or RTCs, Hurriyat (Mirwaiz) had adopted this style of speculations until the last moment. And, finally a 'NO' to everything! With slight change of style, JKLF chief Yasin Malik and Democratic Freedom Party supremo, Shabir Shah, have also been playing their 'type roles'. Mirwaiz and Malik have, on many occasions, disappointed their New Delhi friends with little regard to specially getting passports and permissions for frequent visits to USA, UK, Europe and Pakistan. Even as the central intelligence circles have intensified their efforts to influence the separatist leaders like in February 2006 and May 2006, none of them has so far expressed unequivocal willingness to attend the third RTC. Political observers believe that even the 'Achievable Nationhood' darling Sajjad Gani Lone was finding it hard to join a session which was supposed to only discuss the recommendations of the four or five working groups. They insist that Patil and Azad, who have been pushing an army of non-entities and even regular Government employees, to fill in the blanks, would have to be content with just a couple of pseudo-separatists like on two previous occasions. One-odd relief to Azad, who has been publicly instrumental behind the forthcoming RTC, has come in the form of National Conference having resumed its participation in the working group meetings. Presumably, NC would toil to use the April 24 occasion for highlighting the importance of its autonomy resolution, ratified by both Houses of J&K Legislature. Speculations are rife that Mr Azad or his lieutenants would seek to neutralise PDP's slogan of self-rule even if they would have to lend a degree of credence to the NC document. Like on the previous events, Congress party's emphasis would be on creating a developmental constituency- Khushhaal Kashmir-which, in fact, has been either denied to the people in Jammu and Kashmir or discouraged in the last four or five decades of political uncertainty in the Valley. Obviously, PDP would concentrate on the pirated concept of self-rule and demilitarisation and the BJP would lay stress on abrogation of Article 370.