Why Can’t Separatists, Mainstream Parties Come Together For J&K, Asks Bhat

9 November 2009
The Financial Express
Riyaz Wani

Srinagar: Former Hurriyat chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat on Monday said that his proposal to set up an alliance between Kashmir’s separatists and mainstream political parties to move towards a resolution is supported by Pakistan. Bhat’s speech at a seminar in New Delhi in which he made this suggestion had created a furore in Pakistan with separatist hawks and a few doves too up in arms. However, Bhat has stuck to his guns, saying his suggestion is an idea whose time has come. “Pakistan wants all Kashmiris to put their heads together,” says Bhat. “This includes PDP, National Conference, JKLF and even Geelani”. Bhat said those speaking against a broader political alliance in Kashmir had no idea of how the situation has changed. He said the Hurriyat alone will not be able to make much of a difference as its support base in Kashmir had been diffused over the years. “Pakistan itself has invited and extended hospitality to PDP and NC leaders. So, they need to be engaged if we have to contribute effectively to a solution of Kashmir,” Bhat said. However, Bhat refused to identify a new common minimum solution for Kashmir. “It is a long process. And I don’t want to jump the process,” he said. Bhat said the separatists in Kashmir had to evolve and adapt to the times. “Forces of history are so powerful that you cannot go against them. Negativism will get us nowhere,” Bhat said. In the Valley, Bhat’s outreach to the PDP and NC has only further fueled speculation about a quiet movement on Kashmir. More so, as the development has followed Union home minister P Chidambaram’s talk of a ‘quiet dialogue’ and a ‘unique solution’ for Kashmir during his recent visit to Valley. Mirwaiz has also talked of ‘contact’ with New Delhi to create conditions for a larger process to settle Kashmir. On the other hand, Bhat’s offer has taken by surprise even some senior ranking dove leaders who claim to be in the dark about the unfolding situation. “I certainly don’t know what is happening. Many of us have not been taken on board,’’ Hurriyat’s provincial president Naeem Khan said. He termed Bhat’s statement as ‘unwise’.