Possibility of clearance to Hurriyat’s Pak trip appears bleak
16 January 2001
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: THE CENTRE is caught in a bind over the five-member Hurriyat delegation's proposed visit to Pakistan. What has forced the Vajpayee regime into a rethink is the 23-party conglomerate's lack of clarity about its Pak mission. Going by the discussions at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) here yesterday, the possibility of an official sanction for the Hurriyat's journey appears bleak. The Government may firm up its decision over the next couple of days following detailed discussions with its Kashmir 'think-tank' comprising top level intelligence officers and track-two intermediaries. Official sources told The Hindustan Times that the Hurriyat leaders have not spelt out the parameters of their peace-mission except for expressing optimism about persuading some Pak-based militant outifts to respond positively to New Delhi's cease-fire initiative. While delinking extension of the Ramzan cease-fire from the Hurriyat's Pak visit, the Government, sources disclosed, was keen to analyse the implications of the Kashmiri leader's interaction with Pak-backed militant groups. This was considered necessary in the light of the conflicting signals emanating from the Hurriyat camp. The Centre is understood to have conveyed to the Hurriyat leaders that they were welcome to visit Pakistan in their individual capacities. 'But their response till date has been dismal,' they remarked. According to sources, the Centre is wary of allowing Jamati-i-Islami leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to accompany the Hurriyat delegation. The unexpressed fear is about his ability to hijack the entire mission and reduce it to an anti-India venture. It is quite likely that Geelani might use the opportunity to propagate the philosophy of Muslim 'Umma'-trans-national Islamic brotherhood- instead of pleading for peace in Kashmir. His unabashed admiration for mercenary groups and their violent contribution to the promotion of Pan-Islamic objectives is already well known. The Centre, apparently, is also reluctant to accord the Hurriyat leaders the role of a third party in the Kashmir dispute. Keen though to enter into a dialogue with the 'people of Kashmir,' the Govern-ment is loath to the idea of putting 'all its eggs in one basket.' 'All formations including the Hurriyat have a role, depending upon their political formulations at the grass-roots,' the sources averred . Another development which has prompted the Government review its Kashmir policy is the spurt in militant attacks on civilians.