Delhi against Hurriyat calling the shots
31 December 2002
The Daily Excelsior
B L Kak
Jammu: New Delhi’s agenda for ''peace'' talks in Jammu and Kashmir has, at last, become clear. The agenda contains one part of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s proposal—that is, hold talks with the elected representatives in the troubled State, before others are roped in. Significantly, second part of the Mufti’s proposal, favouring ''unconditional'' talks with secessionists, particularly the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC), is not in the agenda, which has been made public by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr LK Advani. The Centre’s agenda can accommodate other items relating to Jammu and Kashmir. ''But not under anyone’s dictation or diktat'', is New Delhi’s refrain. It was, precisely, in this context that Mr Advani chose to reiterate, after his one-day visit to Jammu on December 27, that the Government of India would not talk to Pakistan’s ‘proxies’. This, undoubtedly, was a reference to the 23-party amalgam (Hurriyat Conference) with its headquarters in the State’s summer capital, Srinagar. Nor was it all. The Deputy Prime Minister brought to the fore the Centre’s yet another decision: No talks with those who reflected Pakistan’s ''voice''. That the Government of India had not taken gladly to the reiteration of the condition by the Hurriyat leaders in support of their visit to Pakistan for the success of any peace talks on Kashmir became amply clear with Mr Advani’s devastatingly blunt expression: The approach of some Kashmiri leaders that they want to go to Pakistan does not make any sense. Equally hard-hitting was his comment: ''If we have to talk to Pakistan, we will not require any intermediary''. This comment was seemingly meant to suggest that New Delhi was not prepared to accept dictation from Pakistan’s ''vehicle of propaganda'' in Kashmir, the Hurriyat Conference. The Deputy Prime Minister called a spade a spade at a time when three important developments had taken place. First, of course, was the noise, louder than before, against the so-called reperesentative character of the Hurriyat Conference. It was quite surprising when Mr Hashim Qureshi, founder member of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, went all the way from Srinagar to Delhi to express himself against the Hurriyat leaders: ''They formed the amalgam to represent Kashmiris but ended up being stooges of Pakistan...If the problem of Kashmir is wolved, what will happen to him? After all the Kashmir issue has become a money minting machine for them''. It is a different matter that Mr Hasim Qureshi is the man who hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in 1971 to Pakistan. He returned to India (or was his return manipulated?) nearly three years ago, after a two-decade exile in Holland. That the leadership of the 25-party conglomerate is neither awe-inspiring nor undisputed has also been borne out by the stand taken by a section of hard-liners against the Hurriyat leadership’s talks with the Kashmir Committee led by eminent jurist and former Union Law Minister, Mr Ram Jethmalani. ''Lovers'' of Mr Jethmalani, such as the Hurriyat president, Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat, former president, Maulvi Umar Farooq, and Kashmir’s ''Nelson Mandela'', Mr Shabir Shah, must have gnashed their teeth in anger, after Democratic Political Movement (DPM), formerly known as Islamic Students League, berated the amalgam’s decision to continue its parleys with the Kashmir Committee. The DPM, which is a constituent of the amalgam, insisted that the talks were violative of the constitution of the Hurriyat Conference. The constitution provides for trilateral talks involving India, Pakistan and Kashmiri representatives. Second development was the product of the Chief Minister, Mufti Sayeed’s call for a ''positive response'' from individuals and groups in Kashmir to Mr LK Advani’s offer of talks to resolve the Kashmir crisis.Obviously, the Mufti had the Hurriyat leaders in mind when he told a public gathering on the outskirts of Srinagar on December 29 that they should ''grab the opportunity'' and express their readiness for dialogue with the Centre to resolve the Kashmir issue. Third development took place with New Delhi strongly resenting Pakistan President, Gen Parvez Musharraf’s ''provocative'' remarks in Karachi during his address to Pak Air Force veterans. It was Monday (December 30). While Mr LK Advani was arguing his case against Pakistan’s anti- India line in the course of his air journey from Delhi to Jodhpur, a senior Government official told mediapersons in the Union capital that Gen Musharraf’s remarks that he was prepared to use nuclear weapons if Indian troops had crossed into Pakistan territory during the first quarter of 2002 and asked the international community to take note of it. The Indian official had two messages—one, Gen Musharraf’s remarks made ''unrealistic'' the prospects of any meaningful forward movement in India’s relations with Pakistan, and, second, the real problem of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of rogue states ''is more in Pakistan than elsewhere''. New Delhi cannot be faulted for its finding: Pakistan combines all the three elements which are of grave concern to the international community— that is, religious fundamentalism, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.