Hurriyat Unity Hits Roadblock

9 July 2008

Srinagar: The Hurriyat factions, led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, struggled to find a common ground to seal their merger. A six-member committee comprising leaders from both factions met on Wednesday to work out the “modalities for the Hurriyat unity,” but failed to reach a consensus on the issue. While the Geelani-led faction sought an end to dialogue with the Centre, demanding trilateral talks involving Pakistan, Mirwaiz wanted the engagement to continue. The demands from the hardliners are as follows: l No more talks with New Delhi even if there is an invitation from the Centre. They want a united Hurriyat to revert to its demand for tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris, with Hurriyat as a party to the dispute. l The hardliners wanted the moderate faction to launch an active boycott campaign in the forthcoming Assembly polls and stop offering resolution proposals on Kashmir to the Centre. Geelani said UN resolutions on Kashmir should be the starting point for any initiative to resolve the Kashmir issue. However, these stiff conditions for reconciliation are ranged against the popular groundswell generated by the Amarnath land issue. “We cannot let go of this opportunity. If we fail to rise up to people’s expectations, they will never forgive us,” said a senior Hurriyat leader on conditions of anonymity. “Only a united Hurriyat will be in position to lead and maintain the current momentum”. But the moot point is how the two Hurriyats will bridge their irreconcilable positions on Kashmir. While Geelani is rooted to the traditional frame of reference on Kashmir, Mirwaiz has gone too far down the pragmatic route to retrace to a hawkish stance. The moderates have always supported talks with New Delhi and been favourable to “honourable offers” short of Azadi. Mirwaiz has also been a staunch votary of Pervez Musharraf’s four-point proposals on Kashmir. But then, they are against an election boycott campaign. Senior moderate leader Prof Abdul Gani Bhat thinks that a boycott makes Hurriyat a party to the democratic process. “Our position is that elections are for governance only. They have no bearing on the Kashmir as a dispute,” says Bhat.