Geelani Asks Pak Military Leadership To Step Down
18 July 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: With almost all of mainstream as well as separatist politicians continuing to be deaf and dumb to the Lal Masjid episode and its consequences for over a fortnight, Valley's first voluntary reaction to the bloody operation has come from none other than the Chairman of the hardline faction of Hurriyat Conference today. In his one- page statement, grief-stricken Syed Ali Shah Geelani has asked the military leadership in Islamabad to step down and clear the way for an 'Islamic democratic' dispensation. According to them, Lal Masjid and its violent aftermath were threatening to create a situation that would be 'worse than the fall of Dhaka'. Expressing his anguish over the 'extremely serious' situation in Pakistan, Geelani said in the statement that the spate of violent incidents was a cause of concern not only for those in Pakistan but also for the entire Muslim world. 'Indiscreet rulers have brought the God-gifted country on the verge of extinction. They have created uncertainty all over the country and imperiled the integrity and solidarity of the Islamic republic. Absence of a combination of wisdom and boldness is likely to create a situation that could be worse than the fall of Dhaka', Geelani warned. He said that a 'miniscule minority of one percent opportunists' had played havoc with their wrong policies in Pakistan. Geelani alleged that the Pakistani military leadership had made itself appear like a partner of the US Administration in perpetrating atrocities on the Muslim nation 'which has not only sullied the image of Pakistan but also let loose a 'painful chain of fratricide' in Pakistan. He described the military operation on Lal Masjid as an 'extremely barbaric and brutal act' which, according to him, had demoralised the forces of moderation and reconciliation in Pakistan. Geelani observed that the Pakistani military was not only meant for protecting the geo-political borders of the Islamic Republic but also supposed to guard the country's 'ideological boundaries'. 'We don't view the Pakistani Army simply as a professional military force but also an ideological watchdog of the Islamic Republic and the entire Muslim Ummat', Geelani said. 'But unfortunately the same Army has been positioned today to fight its own nation and Ummat. It's not only a mistake but also a grave sinful act', Geelani said and observed that the imbroglio in Pakistan could never be resolved with the military might. According to him, one-odd way out was stepping down of the military regime and creating an interim Government which would facilitate installing an Islami democratic dispensation by way of free and fair elections. Geelani is the first Kashmiri politician who has openly asserted on the pre-Lal Masjid and post-operation situation on Pakistan after maintaining silence for over two weeks, including few days of ill health. So-called moderate faction of the Hurriyat, headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, all constituents of the Hurriyat, both factions of JKLF, as also everybody from the mainstream National Conference to the PDP, have remained mute spectators to historic happenings in Pakistan this month. All of these outfits have been otherwise religiously maintaining the tradition of issuing statements to media on the most insignificant issues for the last over a decade. NC's Omar Abdullah and Congress party's leader and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad have been contented with feeble reactions to the incidents in Pakistan in their statements since last weekend. Observers believe that only Azad and Geelani were in a position to draw lines on the events in Pakistan. While Azad has been publicly and proactively dismissing militancy as 'terrorism' and could easily support Gen Musharraf and his anti-Jihadi policies and operations, Geelani has never hidden his support to the Jihadis and has been eulogising them as warriors of Islam. For all others, including the NC, PDP, Hurriyat and JKLF, taking Musharraf's side would mean antagonising the militants and glorifying the militants would annoy the General. For them, silence is the proverbial best policy.