Chief of divided Hurriyat calls on Pak High Commissioner
10 April 2001
The Indian Express
New Delhi: HURRIYAT Conference chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat’s meeting with Pakistan High Commissioner Ashraf Jehangir Qazi comes amidst speculations about Pakistan’s increasing concern over the separatist conglomerate turning a divided house. Although the Hurriyat spokesman dismissed the meeting as ‘‘routine interaction’’, sources said that Bhat was actually called by the High Commissioner following hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani bad-mouthing the role of moderates — lead by Bhat and Abdul Ghani Lone — within the Hurriyat. The ailing Geelani had had a detailed meeting with Pakistani envoy about two weeks ago. Qazi, whose office has turned into a grievance redressal cell of sorts for the disgruntled Kashmiri separatists, generally consults the authorities in Islamabad on all crucial issues concerning Hurriyat. It appears summons for Bhat coincided with Geelani leaving for Srinagar. Bhat’s luncheon meeting with Qazi comes at a time when Hurriyat is faced with the crucial decision of whether to respond to New Delhi’s offer of unconditional talks with Kashmiri rebels or not. Geelani, who has been opposed to any talks with the Centre faces a growing group of Hurriyat moderates who are not against talks.