New Indo-Pak Thaw Playing Differently To Separatists?4 April 2011
Srinagar: New Indo-Pak thaw is playing differently to separatist quarters in Kashmir. While Hurriyat (M) has unreservedly welcomed it, Hurriyat (G) has its fears about the engagement. Its dread: Islamabad might return to the framework of the former Pakistan president Musharraf’s four-point proposals on the state. ‘’We want Kashmir to be permanently resolved and will cooperate in any exercise geared towards this end,’’ Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ayaz Akbar told Greater Kashmir. “However, we will resist any compromise on Kashmir. And we do not think Musharraf’s proposals offer a credible solution’’. Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani had proved to be the single-most challenge to the intense Indo-Pak engagement on Kashmir through 2004-07. Geelani had bitterly opposed Musharraf’s ‘flexibility’ on Kashmir forcing Islamabad to turn its back on him. That is, until the new PPP-led democratic dispensation took over towards the end of 2007 forcing Musharraf to exit the scene. The current Pakistan government has since not only gone back on Musharraf’s flexible outlook on a Kashmir solution but also restored parity between Geelani and Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. ‘’Now, there are indications that this phase is ending. Though Pakistan continues to maintain a public posture of pursuing its traditional Kashmir policy which stresses implementation of UN resolutions, behind-the-scene they are picking up the threads where Musharraf left,’’ said another Hurriyat (G) leader. ‘’However, we don’t want to jump the gun. We want to wait and watch’’. What has deepened the suspicions is the recent invite to the mainstream Kashmiri leaders like Engineer Abdur Rashid and PDP leader Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari to the Pakistan Day function on March 23. Hurriyat (G) has traditionally looked down upon Islamabad’s overtures to what it calls ‘’pro-India leaders’’ in Kashmir. It thinks that Islamabad’s engagement with them detracts from the credibility of the separatists and lends recognition to the mainstream political ideology in the state. ‘’What is there left to differentiate between us and them then,’’ a leader says. ‘’The engagement with pro-India leaders also gives legitimacy to the pro-India politics in people’s eyes. We think this harms our cause’’. However, at the same time, Hurriyat (G) doesn’t also want to appear as an unnecessary spoilsport and would wait for the process to play out for a while before making up its mind whether to reject it or go along with it. This is why Hurriyat (G) is keeping its fingers crossed. There is both a readiness for engagement with Islamabad and also some restraint. This is why, while Geelani attended the Pakistan Day function at the High Commission in New Delhi, he has shown some reservations about visiting Pakistan. Last year, he refused to go to the neighbouring country to visit his then ailing son even when government gave him passport. The reason was that he feared that Islamabad might persuade him to toe Kashmir line other than what has been the traditional policy or try to prevail on him to unite with Mirwaiz. However, now when Indo-Pak dialogue is picking up again, Geelani’s approach to it will be of crucial importance. Will he again fall out with Islamabad if it shows signs of flexibility? Hurriyat (G) is not ready to reveal anything as yet. ‘’We extend our full support to the efforts to resolve Kashmir,’’ says Ayaz Akbar. ‘’But we want Kashmir to be a core issue and its resolution according to UN resolutions or through a tripartite dialogue between New Delhi, Islamabad and Kashmiris’’.