24th September 1997
By: Aditya Sinha
NEW DELHI: For the first time in recent years, there is no Kashmiri separatist on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session trying to embarrass India. All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman Mirwaiz Omar Farooq was forced to cancel his trip to New York, ironically, at the behest of his own colleagues.
The Mirwaiz, who retains valid travel document has been globe-trotting for the past three years to push the AHPC's secessionist agenda in various international fora, was prevented by members of the APHC executive committee from making the trip. This occurred despite the fact that the Pakistan High Commission had fixed an appointment for the Mirwaiz to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sept. 23 1997.
Mr. Omar Farooq, has been travelling abroad since 1995, when he attended the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) ministerial meet in Casablanca, Morocco. Since then, he has attended the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland, and successive UNGA sessions till this year. He was to leave again this year to brief the OIC's contact group on Kashmir, which has an observer status at the UN, and which tried to put pressure on India during the current UNGA session.
However, two member of the APHC executive committee browbeat the Mirwaiz into staying back. Abdul Ghani Lone and JKLF chief Yasin Malik felt that Mirwaiz frequent travels abroad was cospiracy by the Government of India to project him as the prominent Kashmiri separatist leader outside the subcontinent. At an APHC executive committee meeting 10 days back, he told the Mirwaiz that either the entire seven-member committee should make the trip, or else it should not be undertaken at all.
None of the other members, besides Shia Leader Moulvi Abbas Ansari have travel document therefore it was decided that no one would travel. When the Hurriyat leaders visited New Delhi to meet Pakistan Information Minister Mushahid Hussain, they were firmly told to stop bickering and allow the Mirwaiz to make the trip to New York. Officials at he Pakistan High Commission had prepared a detailed program for him.
Yet on the Mirwaiz' return to Srinagar, he came under heavy fire for making a statement saying that the APHC was ready for unconditional talks with the Government of India. Five militants of the Shoura-e-Jahad cornered him at a APHC executive council meting last week and forced him to retract his statement (which he subsequently did). They also nixed his proposed visit abroad.
As a consequence, the Kashmiri separatist campaign at the UNGA this year, despite Mr. Nawaz Sharif's speech to the Assembly as well as his exhortations to US President Bill Clinton, has apparently not made much of an impact on the member-states of the premier international body.