Without Hurriyat, Vajpayee-Musharaaf summit will be futile: Geelani
27 June 2001
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: With a hope that peace will prevail in this sub-continent people have been avidly waiting for the out-come of the much hyped summit between Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani President General Parveez Musharraf but prominent separatist leader Sayed Ali Shah Geelani, on the other hand, does not see any reason to pin hope on proposed summit between two leaders scheduled to be held on July 14. "The much touted summit between Musharraf Sahib and Vajpayee Sahib will be an exercise in futility if Kashmiris were not involved in the dialogue", Mr Geelani insisted. In an exclusive interview with EXCELSIOR, former chairman of the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Sayed Ali Shah Geelani said that Kashmir was bone of contention between India and Pakistan and without solving this vexed problem improvement in their relations was impossible. "What so ever may be agenda of the meeting between Mr Vajpayee and General Parveez Musharraf but one thing is very much clear that they can not skip Kashmir in their discussion", he said, adding, "discussing Kashmir without involvement of Kashmiris will be trifling and futile exercise ". "Being two sovereign states India and Pakistan have every right to hold bilateral discussion but how can they discuss Kashmir without involving people who have been representing wishes and aspirations of the Kashmiris", he stressed while emphasising on the need of involving Hurriyat Conference in the dialogue on Kashmir. "India and Pakistan have signed so many agreements vis-a-vis Kashmir but all these exercises provided futile as these attempts were made while blatantly ignoring wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir" , he said. Mr Geelani, former chairman of the separatist conglomeration, still has not lost hope about getting audience with Pakistani President General Parveez Musharraf during his three days visit to India. "We have shot off a letter to the Pakistani embassy in this regard but have not yet received any reply", he disclosed while denying the news-item that Pakistani authorities have flatly refused to give them permission to meet Musharraf. He said that Hurriyat Conference has been hoping that Pakistani authorities would respond positively to its letter. Hard- liner leader of the Hurriyat Conference reiterated that Kashmir was a disputed issue and India should recognise the fact that implementation of the United Nation resolution, which gives the right of self-determination to the people of the State, was only solution to the Kashmir problem. "There is no question of diluting our stand", he said and asserted that Hurriyat’s stand was unshakable and only implementation of UN resolution was the ideal solution to vexed Kashmir problem. When his attention was drawn towards some clauses of the Resolution in which it was mentioned that Pakistan should vacate occupied Kashmir before plebiscite, Mr Geelani parried the query and said that according to the Resolution India will have to withdraw its bulk of forces from Kashmir. Interestingly Hurriyat leader was stressing on implementation of UN resolution but he made a guarded silence when he was asked whether he would ask Pakistan to liberate occupied Kashmir for implementing the said resolution. Mr Geelani, who has been representing Jamit-i-Islami in the conglomeration of 23 parties, candidly admitted that differences have cropped up in the All Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC). "I do admit that there are some differences but these differences are of not serious nature", he said and stoutly ruled out division in the conglomeration. Replying to question regarding sincerity of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee towards solving Kashmir problem, Mr Geelani said, "I don’t know what is in his mind. If India has realised that Kashmir is a dispute and time has come to solve this dispute under UN resolution then it is welcome step", he said and added that inviting Pakistani President was a welcome step. He, however, regretted that Indian leaders were still giving confusing statements. "India should shun its rigidity and unrealistic stand", he said. When his attention was drawn towards statement of a prominent religious leader of Pakistan who has asked the militants groups to announce cease-fire due to the forthcoming summit, Mr Geelani expressed his reservation over the statement. "What is the fun of asking Mujahideens to announce cease- fire when security forces have been committing atrocities on people", he said. Fire-brand Hurriyat leader openly defended stand of those who have been advocating merger of Kashmir with Pakistan. "Being Muslims we have every right to exercise our franchise in favour of Pakistan as Pakistan is a Muslim majority state", he said and disagreed with the term ‘secularism’.