Iran asks APHC to contest J&K polls

8th December 1997

NEW DELHI: Iran is understood to have advised the separatist Jammu and Kashmir. All Party Hurriyat Conference to participate in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

This advice came over the weekend, when APHC Chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq visited the Iranian embasssy to complain that the Goverment of India did not allow him to visit Teheran for the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting.

The APHC had hoped to send a four-member delegation to Teheran where Pakisthan is attempting to galvanise support for the separatist cause in Kashmir, Though the delegation, led by the Mirwaiz, had valid documents the Goverment stopped them at the Airport on Thursday night, accusing them of carrying seditious literature for dissemmination abroad.

When the Mirwaiz complained to the Iranian embassy, he was told that nothing could be done, as the orders to stop them from going had ostensibly come from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which handles J&K affairs. The Iranians further advised him to contest the Parliamentary elections, which are due in early spring.

The APHC delegation also visited the Pakisthan High Commission, which tried to prevail, upon them not to contest the elections, but to carry on their campaign for secession from India.

The Pakistanis are apparently worried that constituents of the APHC will enter the electorial process. Such signals have come from the Mirwaiz himself, as his outfit, the Awami ACTion Committee is considering participating in polls through a frontal organisation. Outside the APHC, separatist leader Shabir Ahmed Shah is also considering contesting election through a party of his own.

These considerations have led to a considerable churning within the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) now rethinking its role in the armed struggle, and emphasising a return to its original pratice through ‘daawat’ (preachings).

IN this context APHC executive member Syed Ali Shah Gilani has been sidelined , and a moderate, G.M.Butt, elected as the JEI’s Amir-e-Jamaat in the Valley.Futher more, the JEI and its armed wing , the Hizbul Mujazideen , are trying to distance themselves from one another, so that the JEI can foreswear "the role of the gun" in th ecurrent phase of the separatist movement.

Part of this introspection by the APHC stems from the fact that its cadres feel that despites its "sacrifices" durind the insurgency, they are still alienated from main stream Kashmir society.Further irking them is the fact that Mirwaiz Omar Farooq has become the international face of the Kashmiri separatist movement.

To maintain an indeaendt indentity, the JEI cadres has been pressuring the leadership for a change in tactics, and to strenghten the organisation. Whether the new moderate leadership also decides to participate in the polls along with other ATHC constituents, however, remains to be seen.

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